Mum struck by lightning: 'It makes you think twice about life'

By John Lewis

Jamie Shaw, Jayden Shaw and Anita Hemi of Te Anau. Photo / Supplied
Jamie Shaw, Jayden Shaw and Anita Hemi of Te Anau. Photo / Supplied

Anita Hemi is quickly learning that being struck by lightning can have the most peculiar consequences.

Since the 37-year-old was struck by lightning outside the Fiordland Medical Practice last
Friday, she has been nicknamed Sparky and she has been receiving regular requests from
friends, asking her to hold their mobile phones in the hope she will be able to recharge them.

"People are making funny comments. People think it's good luck to touch someone who's
been struck by lightning.

"I can laugh about it now, but it was pretty serious at the time.''

Ms Hemi said a major storm was blowing through Te Anau as she and her 1-year-old son.

Jayden left a medical appointment about 2.45pm.

"I walked across the car park to the truck and I had just put Jayden into his car seat he
wasn't even strapped in and there was an almighty bang.

"I saw a blue light and then my vision went a bit blurry, and then my calf muscles tightened up, and I knew I'd been hit.

"I just collapsed to the ground in the pouring rain.

"I was conscious the whole time. We were both screaming.''

Fortunately, Jayden was not harmed, she said.
"I was lying on the ground waiting for a burning sensation. But it didn't come.

"My legs were numb from the knees down. All I could feel was a tingling sensation. There was no pain. It was really weird.''

She said the only injuries were a couple of 1cm scratches one on her thigh where the
lightning transferred from the vehicle to her body, and two others on her feet where the
lightning exited her body.

She said her lower legs looked purple, bruised and burned immediately after the incident, but they returned to normal within a couple of hours.

"I'm really, really disappointed I didn't get a picture of them.''

Ms Hemi said she was trying to find a funny side to the experience, because she was just
starting to realise how close she came to "becoming toast''.

"Every now and then I have blue flashes, like it's coming back to me. I'm starting to realise now how serious it was. It could have killed me.

"It makes you think twice about life. Don't take anything for granted, especially with the wee one [Jayden].''

She said there had been thunder and lightning all day, but she never gave it a thought because she felt you would have to be pretty lucky, or unlucky, to be hit by a lightning bolt.

"If there is lightning now, I won't be going outside.

"I was very lucky it wasn't worse for me.

"I went and bought a Lotto ticket because I felt so lucky to be alive. I won $12 so that was quite good.''

- Otago Daily Times

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