Sunday, June 06, 2010

Hit by lightning seven times and survived...shot himself because of unrequited love

People have survived many things, but only one have survived seven hits by lightning. His name was Roy Cleveland Sullivan. The irony - he eventually shot himself because of unrequited love.

 Roy Sullivan (born on February 7, 1912 – died on September 28, 1983), a U.S. park ranger from Virginia holds the world record as a man who was hit most times by lightning and survived. Between 1942 and 1983 he was hit by lightning no less than seven times. Thanks to that people used to call him Human Lightning Rod or Human Lightning Conductor.

His first hit was on April 1942 when he was hiding from a thunderstorm in a fire lookout tower. This lightning burned his right leg, hit his toe and left a hole in his shoe. Sullivan admitted later that this was his worst lightning strike.

The second occurred 27 years later. Actually, in1969. While driving his truck on mountain road a lightning struck nearby trees. From there, it deflected to the open window of his truck. The result: burned eyebrows, eyelashes, and most of his hair. It also knocked Sullivan unconscious.

A year later, in 1970, the third one hit him. It happened in his front yard. Luckily, this time it just caused a minor injury to his left shoulder.

Just two years later, in 1972, the forth hit occurred. This one set his hair on fire. In order to smother the flames he rushed to the rest room, but couldn't fit under the water tap and so used a wet towel instead. With this hit, Sullivan eventually acquired a fear of death. Who wouldn’t?  He ceased going out during storms and started always carrying a can of water with him in fear of flames. He even avoided people because he started to fear that they maid be hurt in his presence.

His fears were justified just a year later. In 1973, while driving his truck he saw storm coming. He tried to avoid it by going in another direction. When he thought that he was safe from lightning he got out of his truck, but… booom. He was hit again. The lightning set his hair on fire, moved down his left arm and left leg and knocked off his shoe, although it did not untie the lace. It then crossed over to his right leg just below the knee. Since he stayed conscious, he managed somehow to crawl to his truck. In the truck he had a can of water, which he kept always with him from the last hit, and he used it to pour water over his head.

After the fifth hit he was safe only for three years. Sullivan stated that he tried to run away from storm clouds but they apparently followed him. Eventually, they caught out with him, and the bolt injured his ankle. 

The seventh and the last hit happened while he was fishing, in 1977. The lightning hit the top of his head, singeing his hair, and traveled down burning his chest and stomach. It send him strait to the hospital.

Now, a lot of people would say that no one can survive that much hits and that this is all just a joke. Well, all seven strikes that hit Sullivan were documented by the superintendent of Shenandoah National Park, R. Taylor Hoskins, and were verified by doctors. The Guinness Book of Records also recognized Sullivan as the person being struck by lightning more recorded times than any other human being.

Sullivan also claimed that he was hit by lightning and when he was a boy, but there was no way of proving that event. His wife was also hit by lightning while hanging clothes in their back yard. Coincidence or not, Sullivan was helping her, but he managed to escape in time, unharmed.

For a man like Sullivan, you would believe that he would finally and die by lightning. But that was not in his case. At the age of 71, on September 28, 1983, he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Why did he ended his life like that?

His wife left him.

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