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Roy Sullivan is in the book for surviving the most lightning strikes.

He was struck seven times in the course of his life surviving events such as his hair catching fire and losing his big toe. Apparently, six years after the seventh time he was struck, he committed suicide after being rejected in love.

I used to know a guy who was struck by lightning. I watched him die.

It happened on May 5, 1995, my friend David's 15th birthday. We were celebrating at Victoria Park in Irving, TX. There were maybe ten of us there, along with David's mom & brother. Another David, this one having the surname Kinnemer, was one of the ten. At some point, it began to rain. Soon afterwards, we decided to move the party elsewhere. We were in kind of an open bandshell with a proscenium stage, so we had some shelter from the storm while we packed up. Kinnemer was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He also decidedly brought a very wrong accessory: his biker chain wallet.

I remember reaching down behind a low wall next to where he was standing, against the back of the bandshell, to unplug our stereo. I stood and walked away, maybe ten feet. Not three seconds after I had moved, I saw a bright orange flash. I felt the ground shake. Birthday boy David had fallen at my feet. I helped him up, then turned my head to look at Kinnemer. That's when David's mom started screaming. . .

At the hospital later, they told us lighting had struck the rebar at the opposite end of the shell from where Kinnemer had stood, moved along the rebar, and arced up to the chain on his wallet. He had suffered third degree burns all along his right thigh. They told us he probably never knew what hit him. His mother was in hysterics, understandably.

I only regret that I had not known the man better. The last thing I said to him while he was alive was, "Dude, these clouds look like they're gonna shit on us." I had no idea how right I was.

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