Caught on camera: local man nearly killed by lightning shares hi - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Caught on camera: local man nearly killed by lightning shares his story

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SHIAWASSEE COUNTY (WJRT) - (06/24/14) - The Mid-Michigan man who filmed a lightning strike earlier this year in Shiawassee County is very lucky.

You may have seen lightning outside, Tuesday, as warmer weather brings plenty of thunder storms. Right now it's National Lightning Safety Awareness Week and the National Weather Service is reminding you that lightning strikes are deadly, but can be avoided.

The guy who filmed this was doing exactly what the National Weather Service tells you not to. When you hear thunder, they want you to head inside.

He took a few precautions before hitting the record button, but still, a lightning strike nearly killed him.

A stormy day in mid-April was enough to lure Tom Leaf outside, into danger. Leaf knew he was too close for comfort, so he stayed in his car to shoot his video.

"The air was real staticy, you could feel something wasn't right," he said.

He loves taking pictures of Mother Nature and he wanted that perfect lightning strike shot. But he got more than he bargained for.

"It kind of threw me backwards, I don't know if it was me jerking back or the impact from the lightning," he said.

In his video, you can see a bolt of lightning flash about six feet from Leaf. The bolt lights up the frame, the camera tilts and everything goes to black. He survived, and so did his camera.

"It was close enough it burned the sleeve on my sweatshirt and the dirt on my car was burned," he said.

He's lucky. The National Weather Service says 51 people die every year from lightning strikes, and those are only the recorded deaths.

Those who don't die are often left with disabilities. Leaf says a little common sense can save your life.

"When the air didn't feel right, I didn't stand out there, I think if I stood out there, I'd be dead," he said.

Leaf's story is a cautionary tale - the National Weather Service says if there's lightning in the area, immediately go inside. If you are caught outside and can't find shelter, they say you should move away from hills or elevated areas, never lie flat on the ground, move away from all bodies of water and don't take shelter under trees.

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