After being struck by lightning, boater warns others of dangers


Statistics show that lightning kills more people than tornadoes or hurricanes.   

With 141 deaths in Tennessee from 1959 to 2016, the Volunteer State ranked eighth in the number of lightning fatalities in the United States during that time period. 

Wilson County resident Dr. Cris Corely knows the dangers of lightning all too well. 

He told News 2 he used to enjoy taking his sailboat out on Old Hickory Lake.  That is until a day he has circled on an old calendar – June 13, 2015. That’s the day lightning struck him and his boat.  

“I was out on a beautiful day, three years ago, out in the mid-channel with clear weather.  All of a sudden, clouds started gathering and within 15 minutes [I] was hit by a single bolt of lightning – the only bolt of the day,” Corley recalled.   

 “A blue beam come and almost hit me in the head. It hit the mast and splashed off of me,” he said. “Of course, it blinded me, and I couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t see.  I hit the deck.  For about 20 to 30 seconds it kept going through my mind, ‘I cannot believe I’m going to die from being hit by lightning.’  I had no pain, felt nothing.  But I was just frustrated that I was going to die from a lightning bolt.   

Dr. Corely said after 20 to 30 seconds, all of his sensations came back.  

“It was like having the wind knocked out of me.  I started breathing.  And of course, I started screaming like a little girl then, because I was steaming.  My gold chain was steaming.  It burned my toenails off my right foot and blew out my right eardrum.  It burned it out. So, I was pretty sore after I was hit.”   

Now, nearly three years later, Corely is a little apprehensive about sailing his boat these days. Since then, he’s done some homework on lightning.   

“It’s only the second time I’ve had this boat out in almost three years.  I sort of lost my thrill for sailing.  I started kayaking a lot.  There’s not an aluminum mast.  I was surprised by how many boats were struck by lightning every year.  There are almost 250 people that have been killed by lightning in the last 10 years.” 

Boating is a big target when it comes to lightning. Weather officials recommended if you hear thunder roar to go indoors.  

For more Summer Weather Safety stories, click here.

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