The Man Who Survived From Seven Lightning Strikes


There is a saying that “lightning never strikes the same place twice” (it’s a myth by the way) but there’s no saying which said that you can’t be struck by lightning twice… or seven times. According to the National Weather Service, the odds of being hit by lightning in your lifetime in the US is 1 in 13,500 and the odds of becoming a lightning victim in a given year is 1 in 1,083,000. So, being hit by lightning seven times in your lifetime seems almost improbable but somebody unlucky (or lucky) enough had beaten the odds.

Roy Sullivan (1912 – 1983), a park ranger in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, was hit by lightning a total of seven times between 1942 and 1977 and lived to tell the tale. This earned him nicknames such as “human lightning rod” and “human lightning conductor”.

The Strikes

  1. The first strike happened in April 1942 while he was sheltering from a storm in a fire lookout tower. Unfortunately, the tower was just recently built and still didn’t have a lightning rod at the time. Sullivan recalled that the tower was hit by lightning seven to eight times which caused the tower to start burning. He was struck by lightning just as he went outside of the tower to escape the fire. “It burned a half-inch strip all the way down my right leg, and knocked my big toe off,” Sullivan said. “My boot was full of blood, and it ran out through a hole in the sole.” He considered this incident his worst lightning strike.
  2. Almost 30 years later, Sullivan received a second lightning strike in July 1969. While driving his truck on a mountainous road, some trees on one side of the road were hit by lightning, then deflected to another tree on the other side of the road. It just so happened that his truck was in the center of it all and his windows were rolled down. The lighting strike knocked him unconscious and burned his eyebrows and eyelashes. This caused his still moving truck to almost fall off a cliff.
  3. In 1970, while tending the garden in his front yard, lightning struck a nearby power transformer and then bounced to him, searing his left shoulder slightly.
  4. In 1972, when he was on duty. Sullivan said there was no storm and only raining lightly at that time when suddenly, he heard a loud sound of thunder and the next thing he knew, his hair was already on fire. He went to the restroom and tried to use the tap to extinguish the fire but his head couldn’t fit under the tap. So out of options, he used a wet paper towel to do the job. After the incident, Sullivan became paranoid every time it rains, which is understandable. He believed that lightning is somehow attracted to him. Also, he began to carry a can of water wherever he goes.
  5. Sullivan was hit by lightning again on August 7, 1973. When he was patrolling the park, he noticed the cloud of storm forming and immediately drove away. He swore that he saw the clouds somehow following him and even saw the lightning bolt that hit him. The lightning burned his hair, traveled to his shoulders and feet, and knocked off one of his shoes away. He then used the can of water he always carried with him to smother the fire.
  6. On June 5, 1976, while walking in the park, he saw a cloud which he claimed was following him. He tried to outrun it but he was still struck by lightning, injuring his ankle.
  7. On June 25, 1977, Sullivan was hit by lightning one last time while fishing. The lightning struck his head which caused his hair to catch fire. It then traveled to his body which seared his chest and stomach. Running to his car, a bear suddenly arrived and tried to steal his catch. So he took a tree branch and hit the bear to scare it off!

It’s no surprise that some people tend to avoid Sullivan, especially during storms. Sullivan once said, “For instance, I was walking with the Chief Ranger one day when lightning struck way off (in the distance). The Chief said, ‘I’ll see you later.'”

Sullivan said that while he was “officially” first hit by lightning in 1942, he was actually first hit by lighting at a much earlier time. One time during his childhood, while helping his father cut the field, his scythe was struck by lightning, though he was uninjured. He said that there is no way to prove it since it was undocumented so he did not bother to claim it.

His wife was also hit by lightning while hanging clothes in their backyard. He was also there helping his wife but fortunately for him, the lightning didn’t hit him.

He died on September 28, 1983, due to a gunshot wound. It was reported that he committed suicide over an unrequited love.


Lakeland Ledger

Washington Post


About Edmark M. Law

My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. I blog at You can find me on Twitter @EdmarkLaw and Facebook. My email is
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44 Responses to The Man Who Survived From Seven Lightning Strikes

  1. Pingback: 4 Sleep Myths That May Be Hurting Your Sleep | Learn Fun Facts

  2. Smitha V says:

    Omg! 7 times! Cant blame the chief ranger for leaving him when he saw lightening coming. There must be a scientific explanation as to why he attracted it so easily. Poor guy though to end his life the way he did.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Science time says:

    Nice post! I’m making posts about scientific explanations behinde everyday appearance and recentlly I’ve made post about love, so if you have time and will please go and check it out!. If you. like it please follow me, I follow you.
    Thank you! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Andy says:

    He went from positive to negative – a shocking story!


  5. Martta Karol says:

    Oh. My. Goodness. What a story!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Denzil says:

    Shocking. Shocking. Shocking. Shocking. Shocking. Shocking. Shocking.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. natuurfreak says:

    Niet te geloven wat ik allemaal lees.Kan iemand echt zoveel pech hebben


  8. intenttowin says:

    Wow. I’ve always been mystified and a little scared of lightning. I can’t imagine being struck multiple times.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. rezinate says:

    I had read about this man – don’t blame him if he got a little unnerved. I read also
    that the golfer Lee Trevino was struck on three different occasions while playing
    Once when I was about fourteen I was on a horse in the middle of storm when
    lightning struck a pine about fifteen or so feet away from us. Just seconds before
    the strike I could feel the air change and my hair beginning to stand on end.
    The impact knocked the horse off his feet and sent us both sprawling – he
    immediately took off and I was left to walk about five miles back – can’t
    blame him either.


  10. Lochan says:

    Interesting story.. Don’t know whether to call him lucky for escaping lightning 7 times or unlucky that he kept attracting it…


  11. Very interesting. I’m fascinated that his heart didn’t stop and he didn’t require intervention.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Alison says:

    Oh, that didn’t end the way it should have. What an unlucky dude!


  13. Maybe is was his magnetic personality ? 🤣
    It’s a shocker to hear after surviving the lightning strikes, he’d end up committing suicide.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Pingback: Amazing! isn’t it? – Transit Address

  15. Irene says:

    Amazing story!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. His body chemistry must have an inordinate amount of whatever would make him prone to attracting the energy the lightning emits.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Christy B says:

    Oh wow this is surprising indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Jael Sook says:

    Fascinating post! And such a sad ending for this man’s life…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. All that and then he takes his own life? I will never understand the human mind…but I’ll keep trying.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. zumpoems says:

    Great story, particularly with the ironic ending.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: The Man Who Survived From Seven Lightning Strikes. | Ndzi's Blog

  22. Ndzi Giyo says:

    Great story there, thanks for letting us know.


  23. 2ndhalfolife says:

    He must have had an electric personality! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Garfield Hug says:

    Either he is very unlucky (*or lucky to survive each strike) or he is a natural lightning rod. Good share! Thanks 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Wow, he cheated death 7 times! He’s almost a cat. LOL! And coincidentally, I read about a man who was struck by lightning at his daughter’s wedding. ฅ(*ΦωΦ*) ฅ

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Fantastic story – he was obviously “haunted” by lightnings.
    Thanks for sharing, dear friend 🙂
    All the best

    Liked by 1 person

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