A father and daughter who went to watch a preseason baseball game between the New York Yankees and the reigning champions, the Atlanta Braves, got the shock of their life when they were struck by lightning in a nearby parking lot.
John Moberg, 74 and his daughter, Ashley, 19, are huge Yankees fans and decided to travel to Tampa from Elmhurst, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago, to watch their favorite players get ready for the regular season. As they sat down to watch Saturday’s game, a storm was approaching the area.
By the sixth inning, rain from the menacing storm had caused the game to be called off. With no more reason to stick around in the stadium, the father-daughter duo took shelter in a souvenir shop before leaving to try to find their car in the parking lot, according to The Daily Herald, a Chicago area news outlet.
This map, posted by lightning expert Chris Vagasky, shows that lightning began within 10 miles of the baseball stadium where the Yankees and Braves were facing off 15 minutes before the strike that caused the two injuries occurred.
When they couldn’t find their car, the two paused under a tree to take shelter, a place experts advise that people should never take shelter during a thunderstorm. When thunder roars, you should immediately seek shelter indoors or in your car.
“There was a bright flash, brighter than the [studio] lights you have, and then the loud boom,” Ashley said. “I saw my dad flying through the air smacking his face on the ground and I was flying through the air and then I thought my dad was dead for a while because he was knocked unconscious and not talking.”
Both were lucky not to be directly hit by the strike, which hit them as they stood a few feet apart. Ashley was adjusting her shoes as she was struck, and the force of the strike sent the shoes flying off her feet, according to The Daily Herald.
“I woke up with my face in the mud, my feet laying in the parking lot, and I cannot move anything, I can’t even pick up my face out of the mud, so I thought I had a stroke,” John said.
A burn on Ashley Moberg’s neck was caused by the heat of the lightning melting a necklace she was wearing.
Eventually, Ashley managed to get the attention of a passerby, who called 911. John and Ashley were hospitalized and monitored for a few days, with John suffering a broken cheekbone while Ashley suffered burns to her neck, as the electricity heated and melted a metal necklace she was wearing.
According to the Mobergs, the responding paramedics told them that they were likely saved by the rubber soles of their shoes, something Chris Vagasky, the lightning applications manager at Vaisala, a lightning research firm based in Finland, says is a myth.
“People are not protected from lightning by what they wear,” Vagasky tweeted. “The only way to protect yourself from lightning is to be inside and away from the electric charge.”
The Yankees stepped in to give the duo free tickets to a game against the Chicago White Sox in May and an autographed ball from Ashley’s favorite player, Aaron Judge.
“Something that was truly scary turned out to be positive in the end,” John said, according to The Daily Herald.
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