NOTTOWAY COUNTY, Va. — A Nottoway County man is still recovering after a lightning strike landed him in the hospital.
52-year-old Bobby Pridemore was moving cows in a pasture about 100 yards behind his home along Bible Road in Crewe Friday evening when lightning struck a metal gate and sent a charge down the barbed wire fence where he was standing.
Pridemore’s right hand and hip were touching the fence about 200 yards from where the bolt hit the gate, and he suffered an electrical shock.
“He kept saying all he could think was he messed up this time,” Donna Pridemore, Bobby’s wife, explained. “He truly thought his arm was gone.”
The strike sent him flying back off the fence. Donna and the couple’s daughter, Kaitlyn, were inside the home at the time.
“We heard the loud boom, and it was enough to rattle the house pretty much,” she noted. “I was like, Kaitlyn, where’s your dad? And Kaitlyn was like, I don’t know, Mom.”
Kaitlyn called her father, and luckily, he was able to swipe the phone with his left hand to answer and tell them to call 911.
Bobby also found the strength to pull himself back on his four-wheeler and sped to his home, where he was met by Nottoway Emergency Squad crews. They examined him and transported him to Chippenham Medical Center, where doctors said he suffered a small third-degree burn on his left hip.
“They wanted to keep him overnight,” noted Donna. “They checked his heart out, and his heart looked good. They gave us instructions on how to care for the wound on his hip.”
Donna said something she won’t forget is the distinct smell coming from her husband after the incident.
“The smell of burnt skin,” said Donna. “I don’t know how to describe it because that’s what it was. It was just a really bad smell, and he stayed that way. We could still smell it on him from when he got home from the hospital the next day.”
Bobby is still recovering from the emotional toll the incident took on him, but he was back at work Monday morning.
The Pridemores are extra thankful for the support of their small community.
“Half the neighborhood was there checking on him within minutes of the squad being there,” Pridemore explained. “We had a neighbor that came and brought him a couple of lottery tickets Saturday night, and just sitting there Sunday morning I had gotten up and they were still sleeping, and I looked online to see if we happened to win. And they weren’t winners, but literally the first thing that comes to my mind was we are winners.”
This isn’t the first scary incident to happen to the Pridemores. Bobby is also a thyroid cancer survivor, and their daughter Kaitlyn suffered a severed aorta during a routine gallbladder surgery back in 2020 and is still in physical therapy.
“Things like this, normally as scary and as hard as they can be, truly, truly bring out the real blessings that you have in life,” she noted. “Because we still have him and we still have her, so even if things have changed, I still have to say that our blessings are just so much bigger than the bad things.”
According to the CDC, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are less than one in a million, and almost 90% of all lightning strike victims survive. Virginia has had fewer than five lightning deaths since 2006.
Around 300 people are struck by lightning per year, and about 50 people die from the strike, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The National Weather Service said the safest place you can be during a storm is inside, but if you are outdoors, here are some last resort tips to stay safe:
- Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
- Never lie flat on the ground
- Never shelter under an isolated tree
- Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
- Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
- Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)