Lightning strike victim thought storm was far away

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A city worker indirectly struck by lightning during Monday morning’s thunderstorms was released from the hospital Tuesday. The man is doing so well, he plans to return to work Wednesday.

The storm that moved through the Austin metro area on Monday averaged 21 strikes hitting the ground in per minute at one point.

Despite that warning, one of those strikes sent a sanitation worker to the hospital Monday morning. City officials said the lightning struck him indirectly by hitting a metal object he came in contact with.

KXAN got answers Tuesday in an off-camera interview with Austin Resource Recovery safety manager Jeff Dilbert. When storms threatened, Dilbert said he checked the interactive radar on KXAN.com.

Seeing the storms, Dilbert sent out a call over dispatch to all workers in the field warning of the approaching lightning and advising them to seek shelter, take a break, and get off their route.

Dilbert says the worker told him after the incident that it wasn’t raining at the time and he thought the storm was still far away, so he continued working.

Lightning often strikes several miles away from the center of the storm, and occasionally as far as 10 to 15 miles from where it’s raining.

Austin Resource Recovery said they’re taking a closer look at their policies today, and if they don’t have something in place to prevent another incident in the future, they will create one immediately.

Knowing what to do during a storm is important because lightning strikes happen more often than you might think. NOAA says Americans have about a 1 in 10,000 chance of being struck at some point in their lifetime.

You can find more helpful information inside of the KXAN Severe Weather guide.

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