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When Lightning Strikes—in Your Office

“Honestly, I’m just happy to be alive.”

Nick Gemayel of Rochester, New York, was sitting in his office on Monday, June 5, while a storm moved passed overhead. Then, one witness told WHEC, there was “a big bold, flash, boom.”

It was lightning, which hit the sidewalk outside of Rochester AutoWerks—but didn’t stay outside.

“I saw from the light switch, a very, extremely, bright flash of light,” Gemayel told WHEC, “and the loudest noise, like, ‘crack’ or ‘pop’ I’ve ever heard in my life. Then I was in a black room all of a sudden because all the power went out.”

For about 30 minutes, Gemayel wasn’t sure what had happened, exactly. Then his hand started to blister and his head started feeling “foggy.” Doctors later told him that he had rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscles following an indirect injury, such as a powerful electric shock. The contents of the destroyed muscle fibers enter the bloodstream, where they can go on to severely injure the kidneys.

In Gemayel’s case, doctors said he would fully recover in body—if not in mind. “Don’t know if I’ll be touching any light switches or anything anytime soon,” he told WHEC. “I’m a little terrified of that office from now on but I’ll get over that.”

All of this is a good reminder that nature doesn’t always care whether we’re inside or outside.