Hand-holding SoCal teens spared serious lightning injury

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Lexie Varga, 17, and Dylan Corliss, 16, were struck by lightning Thursday while walking hand in hand. A California doctor said their injuries could've been much worse had they not been holding hands.

CLAREMONT, Calif. — California teens Lexie Varga and Dylan Corliss may do a lot more hand-holding after a frightening encounter with nature.

The rising high school senior and junior, respectively, are recovering from minor injuries after being struck by lightning Thursday in Claremont.

According to a doctor, the injuries could have been much worse had it not been for the fact that they were walking hand in hand.

“These two were lucky they that they were holding hands. It helped to diffuse the electrical current that ran through their bodies,” Dr. Stefan Reynoso told CNN affiliate KCAL.

Corliss said he and Varga were walking to grab a burger when lightning lit up the sky. Next thing they knew, they both were on the sidewalk, screaming and looking at each other, terrified.

“I just remember being really confused,” Corliss said. “It felt like someone had hit me over the head with a sheet of metal.”

Varga said she landed around three feet from where the couple had been standing.

“Like a force just knocked me over,” she explained.

A motorist said he saw the lightning bolt strike them and stopped to offer help.

The couple, feeling strange and “tingly,” decided to continue on to the burger joint for lunch, but later, at the urging of their parents, went to see a doctor.

Reynoso told the teens it’s likely the lightning entered through Corliss’ head, traveled through their hands and exited through Varga’s left foot.

Since the incident, the couple said they have only felt tired and achy. Had they not been holding hands, the doctor said, their injuries may have caused heart problems or serious burns.

“The chance of getting hit by lightning is very uncommon and perhaps one in a million,” Reynoso told KCAL.

The National Lightning Safety Institute advises people who are outdoors to stay a minimum of 15 feet away from others when there is lightning.

Google Map for coordinates 34.096676 by -117.719779.


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  • Heather McNamara (@RDAHeatherMc)

    ?!? These kids survived and got off lightly because they were holding hands, per the article. But the end of the article says “The National Lightning Safety Institute advises people who are outdoors to stay a minimum of 15 feet away from others when there is lightning.” Is the author not aware that this recommendation makes no sense in light of the article? What does the National Lightning Safety Institute say about the fact that these kids survived lightning likely because they were not only closer than 15 feet, but were actually holding hands? Does that change the recommendation? If so, why not??? These would be actually useful questions to ask and answer on behalf of your audience.

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