Romulus McNeill was just feet away from the powerful lightning bolt that struck in South Carolina last week

By Joelle Goldstein
August 19, 2019 10:59 PM
The man with the umbrella
Academy for Technology and Academics

A South Carolina man is lucky to be alive after lightning struck terrifyingly close to where he was walking with his umbrella last week.

Dramatic footage captured at the Academy for Technology and Academics, and obtained by The Washington Post, shows Romulus McNeill walking down a sidewalk during a rainstorm in Conway, SC with his umbrella in hand.

As he made his way down the pavement, McNeill is suddenly interrupted by a giant flash of lightning that comes mere feet away from where he was walking with his umbrella.

The bolt lights up out of nowhere, causing McNeill to jump, drop his umbrella and pause for a moment as he hunches over. He is then seen picking up his umbrella and quickly running away to seek shelter.

According to the Post, who analyzed the scary incident frame-by-frame, McNeill narrowly missed being struck by lightning, but likely felt a brief shock and dropped his umbrella due to an “induced current spurred by proximity to multiple electrical channels.”

The outlet also noted that people who get electrocuted often exhibit tense muscles and clutch onto any objects they’re holding — which McNeill did not do.

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Though many believe the chances of being struck by lightning are low, data shows it’s actually more common than one might think.

According to the National Weather Service, 12 people have been killed by lightning in the United States since the beginning of May 2019.

Three of those fatalities occurred in Florida, while two others took place in Pennsylvania, and all of them happened while the person was engaging in an outdoor activity, such as boating, hiking, camping, fishing and roof repairs.

Since 2009, a total of 284 people have died after getting struck by lightning, with a majority of those victims being male. Males are four times more likely to be struck than females, according to the National Weather Service.

The U.S. has also averaged a total of 51 fatalities per year over the last 30 years, the outlet reports.

While only 10 percent of the people who are struck get killed, the other 90 percent often suffer long-lasting and sometimes chronic injuries, including “varying degrees of discomfort and disability.”

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Because lightning is “erratic” and “unpredictable,” experts advise people to stay indoors whenever there is a thunderstorm and stay there until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.

While indoors, people should avoid using corded phones, touching electrical equipment or cords, using any form of plumbing, and should stay away from windows and doors.

In the event you are stuck outside during a thunderstorm, immediately move toward a safe shelter.