Thursday morning started out like any other day for logger Ricky Jones.
“Things were going great. We were getting the logs out and had moved down the road where there was a hole,” he said.
Then the improbable happened. The 25-year-old Winston man was struck by lightning.
“The pain and feeling is unexplainable,” Jones said Tuesday. “I am really fortunate to be here today and (could) come home to my family.”
Jones was working in Coos County with his crew early Thursday morning. Thunderstorms had been off in the distance for a few hours, but were nowhere near their work site, he said. Then all of a sudden, the storm was all around them.
Jones said he was holding onto a choker line when he was struck.
“I remember the pain and feeling I had. I tried to release it but my hands wouldn’t work,” Jones said. “I was finally able to drop it. Then, I don’t remember much.”
His coworker, Steve Hagar, 42, of Drain, said it happened suddenly. “There was a big crack and flash in the sky, then Ricky was convulsing and fell to the ground,” Hagar explained. “It happened so quick. There was very little time to react. It was amazing he was able to drop the choker.”
Hagar estimated Jones had the current passing through his body for two or three seconds before he was able to release the line. Jones fell to the ground unconscious and began sliding down the hill on which he’d been working. Hagar, along with another coworker, Markus Miller, 21, of Winston, dragged Jones to safety before calling for help.
“I’m very glad the two good guys I work with were there to help me out in that situation,” Jones said. “Some people say I’m lucky. My coworker said, ‘It’s not luck, you’re fortunate.’ I have to say I agree with him. I have someone watching over me.”
Jones regained consciousness but was having chest pains, he said. He was taken by ambulance to Coquille Valley Hospital.
After ordering an electrocardiogram, doctors discovered Jones had more than double the normal amount of toxins in his body, he said.
“I just have to flush it out, drink a lot of water,” Jones said. “Lightning bolts can have long-lasting side effects, like kidney failure, seizures and your heart can explode. I hope none of that happens.”
According to the National Weather Service, there were 60 reported deaths in the U.S. by lightning strikes in 2008, the latest year for which data is available. The agency reports a person’s odds of being struck by lightning in any given year are 1 in 750,000, or 1 in 6,250 over an 80-year lifetime.
Jones took it easy over the weekend and returned to work Tuesday. He said he still has a lot of soreness.
“It feels like a freight train ran me over. I’m slowly getting back into it,” he said.
He said his friends and family were just as speechless as he was when they found out he had been struck by lightning.
“In my 22 years of logging, I have never seen anyone get struck by lightning,” Hagar said. “I’m just really glad he’s OK and actually survived it. It’s a miracle.”
• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
It feels like a freight train ran me over. I’m slowly getting back into it.