Teen survives lightning strike with good humorAustin Shinler started running a only month ago, so on Tuesday when he ran four miles from his grandfather’s cabin near Spirit Mountain to Bardon’s Peak on West Skyline Parkway, the 16-year-old realized he didn’t have the energy to run back. His cousin, who was riding his bike with Shinler, went to get their grandfather.
Austin Shinler started running a only month ago, so on Tuesday when he ran four miles from his grandfather’s cabin near Spirit Mountain to Bardon’s Peak on West Skyline Parkway, the 16-year-old realized he didn’t have the energy to run back. His cousin, who was riding his bike with Shinler, went to get their grandfather.
Then the lightning started.
The Harris, Minn., resident and North Branch High School junior said to avoid getting struck he moved from a high point of rocks on the peak and sat on a lower rock to wait for his grandfather. But he probably should have stayed where he was.
After hearing a loud noise, the next thing Shinler said he remembered was waking up and asking where he was and what happened to him. Bystanders told him he’d been hit by lightning and knocked unconscious.
He was taken to St. Luke’s hospital, where he was treated for third-degree burns on his right ankle and second-degree burns down the backs of his legs.
The lightning bolt didn’t hit him directly, but instead about 10 feet in front of him.
“The doctor told me that the lightning must have gone through the rock, up through my legs and out my feet,” Shinler said.
Part of his right shoe has been torn apart, while his ankle has been heavily bandaged to treat the burn.
The worst pain, he said, came when he first woke up.
“It felt like somebody took a frying pan and hit me on the head as hard they could,” he said. “And that lasted about 30 seconds.”
People parked nearby to enjoy the view of the peak helped Shinler by getting him blankets and calling 911. When his cousin, Robert Walters, returned, he found Shinler covered in blankets, shivering from the cold, and pale white.
“He told me, ‘Please don’t die,’ ” Shinler said.
But Shinler said he was able to joke with others.
“I told [one of the onlookers]: ‘At least we have a great view,’ ” he said.
His parents drove the two hours from Harris to be with him. At first they were told he had collapsed after running; later on the drive they were told he had been hit by lightning.
“He’s very, very lucky,” said his mother, Shellie.
“But I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet. I still feel like this inside,” she said as she held up her shaking hands.
Shinler’s parents said the doctors told them he shouldn’t have any problems with memory loss and that heart problems detected Tuesday night were absent by Wednesday.
And Shinler has a sense of humor about the incident. His father, Doug, used his cell phone all day Wednesday to talk with family and friends, but because he forgot to bring the charger the battery was just about dead.
“Don’t worry dad,” Austin Shinler told him. “Just give it to me and I’ll charge it up for you.”