- Atlantic City as seen from the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Lightning killed one construction worker there on Thursday. By Tony the Misfit.
Nature has been busy with its dreadful business in the past few weeks. The last time the StormWatch 7 blog checked on the national lightning-death count, in mid-August, it was at 19 following an electrical barrage at SeaWorld. The list has since grown to 25 fatalities, with the most recent being a construction worker who was blitzed while erecting a casino in Atlantic City.
The 40-year-old man was on the seventh floor of the 48-story, $2.4 billion Revel resort complex, the tallest building in A.C. that is scheduled to open next spring, when a quick-moving storm unleashed tongues of flame onto his group that somehow found their way into the building. (This was right around the time a waterspout developed in Ocean City.) The electricity traveled from a container used to move concrete to hit three people nearby, including the doomed worker, Bryan Bradley, who died of his injuries at the hospital. Another man suffered burns to his hands, and a third was seemingly doing OK with minor injuries. It's been deemed a "freak incident" by a local TV station.
Since Aug. 18, four men and one woman have also succumbed to bolts from the sky. They are: Volker Kunz, a German tourist who was struck while sheltering under a pine tree in Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park; Kirk Snyder, killed while setting up camp in Westcliffe, Colo.; Justin Inversso, a lifeguard who got hit while evacuating an water slide at a Tampa theme park (this one was particularly terrible; said his father: "It's a victory for him, in the sense he got to go to heaven as a birthday gift"). There was also Patty Gilliam, a Kansas teacher who was riding her bike when violent storms descended. The local news says, "Gilliam turned around and was heading home when she was hit by lightning."
This year, Utah and Missouri have logged the most lightning deaths with three each. An average year sees 55 lightning fatalities, so no doubt there will be more grim news in the months ahead.