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Driver survives lightning strike

PUBLISHED: 17:29 24 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:56 03 July 2010

A 63-YEAR-OLD truck driver with a Gorleston skip hire firm has had a miracle escape after being struck by a 300,000 volt lightning bolt and walking away with only minor burns and blisters.

A 63-YEAR-OLD truck driver with a Gorleston skip hire firm has had a miracle escape after being struck by a 300,000 volt lightning bolt and walking away with only minor burns and blisters.

Such was the force of the strike that Chris Robinson was knocked unconscious and thrown 10ft away from his lorry as he unloaded a skip on marshland at Harfreys Industrial Estate in Great Yarmouth on April 11.

The grandfather came round minutes later to find himself laying on his back with no feeling in his right arm or both his legs.

He stayed still for 10 minutes before crawling to his lorry and hauling himself to his feet.

Incredibly, the Haddiscoe man carried on working and only went to the James Paget University Hospital five-and-a-half hours later, because he had aches and pains and his left boot felt like it contained stones.

Mr Robinson said the rain had only just started when he arrived at the marsh, but quickly turned into heavy hail. He was not sure whether to get out of the cab and begin lowering the skip using a lever on the side of the lorry's trailer.

“I got out and got beside the lorry and put my coat over my head to shelter myself from the rain. The next thing I knew I felt an explosion in my head and ended up 10ft away from the lorry and I was like a jelly. There was no feeling in my arms or legs,” Mr Robinson said.

He had heard a bang like “a shot from a 12-bore gun,” prior to being knocked unconscious.

But the truth of what had happened only dawned when he spoke to a driver who arrived shortly afterwards and described seeing lightning in his direction. At hospital, staff carried out blood and heart tests and put a dry dressing on blisters on his feet, and he was given the all-clear.

But his experience has caused much hilarity among his family and work colleagues, earning him the nickname “Granddad Sparky” from his five-year-old granddaughter Darcie and “Flash” from fellow employees at EE Green and Son.

Mr Robinson said the lightning bolt may have hit the steel on the lorry's trailer and the charge then passed into him.

At any one time there are on average 1,800 storms in progress around the world bringing 100 lightning strikes every second.

A lightning bolt can travel at speeds of up to 14,000mph and can strike 10 miles away from the storm that created it, when the sky is seemingly blue and the weather is sunny.

Mr Robinson added: “It is incredible really. I can't get over it. I am a big bloke and to be thrown that far is amazing.”

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