Man struck by lightning: ‘easily the scariest moment of my life’

Man struck by lightning: ‘easily the scariest moment of my life’

reporter photo

WESTERLY — Erik Clement won’t be shooting video of a thunderstorm again anytime soon.

A little sore just a day after a lightning strike left him suffering from an electric shock — a moment he captured on cellphone video — the manager of the Sea Shell Motel on Winnapaug Road is warning others not to put themselves in similar danger.

“I heard the loudest noise I’d ever heard, saw the brightest light I’ve ever seen and then there was a stinging in my arm,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday. “It was crazy — easily the scariest moment of my life. I’m very thankful for the way everything turned out.”

Clement, 40, was standing in the doorway after trying to capture video of a set of lightning strikes across Winnapaug Pond when the incident occurred. 

He said that after taking several photographs and video, he was ready to go back inside and reached to close the door when the electric shock ran up his left arm, stinging him and leaving his fingers tingling and numb. He ended the video and dropped the phone but picked it back up and immediately called 911.

Westerly police, fire and ambulance personnel responded to the hotel around 2:45 p.m. Tuesday. Westerly Police Sgt. James Campbell, who was among responders, confirmed that Clement was treated at the scene by EMTs with the Westerly Ambulance Corps. 

“It happened,” Campbell said Wednesday. “There was talk on scene, and it appeared lightning most likely struck the pond just in front of the motel then ran into the building and through his hand.”

Lightning strikes were also reported Tuesday afternoon in the Watch Hill area as the last remnants of Hurricane Florence swept across Rhode Island.

For Clement, who lives at the hotel during the week and spends weekends in Norwich, his hometown,   the incident was a reminder that “the cool shot just isn't worth it.”

Clement said the hotel receives National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration alerts, so he was well aware of the storm. He said he didn’t feel he was being unsafe but said he would be more cautious in the future.

He encouraged others to do the same. “I feel blessed, I really do. No one else was injured, there was no damage to the hotel or disruption to guests,” he said. “When you hear those noises warning you of danger on your phone or see them on TV, just get inside.”


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