Ralph Edwards recalls his first reaction when he heard his son Bob had been hit by lightning Monday.
Oh, Lord no, not again! said Edwards.
For the third time, Bob Edwards has survived a reported lightning strike, but says he has been left with physical and emotional scars.
I dont know why its happened, but Ive had enough of it, says Edwards, 51, of southwest Charlotte.
Lightning is the No. 2 weather killer each year in the United States, according to NOAA. On average, more than 30 people are killed annually. Over the past five decades, only Florida and Texas have recorded more lightning deaths than North Carolina. Rarely, experts say, is the same person struck more than once.
Edwards says he was leaving a Steele Creek restaurant Monday evening and headed to his truck, trying to get home before a thunderstorm hit. Suddenly, he saw a huge blue flash. My muscles contracted, to the point where I couldnt straighten out my arms, he recalls. Someone in the restaurant called 911, Medic took Edwards to the hospital, and he was released later.
The first time he reported being hit was in June 1997, on Westinghouse Boulevard in southwest Charlotte. Edwards was struck near his truck and needed resuscitation before spending a week in intensive care. The second strike was in July 2009, in York, S.C., where he was living at the time.
That time, the storm was way off, Edwards recalls. It was a beautiful day. Then my neighbor saw lightning hit a nearby tree, and the bolt went into my back and out of my foot.
Edwards stepsons, Blake and Matthew Dawkins, helped revive him and called 911. A friend, Tom Bragg, said Edwards couldnt move or talk until he got to the hospital.
Edwards says the lightning strikes have left him with post-traumatic stress disorder. He says its been difficult to hold a job, and the disorder has caused big problems in his personal life.
Its made him short-tempered, says Ralph Edwards, his father.
Bob Edwards says one of the toughest parts is dealing with people who try to make light of what happened. Wednesday morning, when he and his father went out to breakfast, someone in the restaurant asked if he was buying lightning insurance. He says hes been called Sparky and other nicknames. When he goes with friends to watch stock car races, his friends move away from him if the sky turns dark.
Edwards says he realizes some of the jokes are meant to be good-natured, but he says the lightning strikes are nothing to laugh about.
One time, a friend of my dad came up and touched me, then said, I touched a man who was touched by the hand of God, Edwards says. If thats true, I wish hed quit touching me. It hurts.