GREENWICH, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — It’s a story of survival and a double stroke of luck — one bad, one good.
First, a local man was hit by lightning, seemingly paralyzed and then carried off to the hospital. But days later, he was discharged from the hospital and is now on his way to recovery.
“[It was] like having a bomb go off at your feet,” Gus Bertolf told CBS 2’s Lou Young on Wednesday.
Bertolf was talking about one of the lightning strikes we all lived through last week, specifically the one that put him in the hospital. It happened at a construction site in Greenwich.
“Funny thing is he talked about lightning before. He said, ‘If it start raining, I’m going home,’” co-worker Matthew Kozak said.
Bertolf, who works an excavator, said the storm swept in at the end of the day and the lightning bolt caught him as he was running for his truck.
“You could feel the storm. I knew it was there. I was trying to run for my truck. A loud bang, and then a blast, I’m thrown. The next thing, I wake up in excruciating throbbing pain, paralyzed in my left leg and my right arm,” Bertolf said.
Doctors told him his muscles started to cook from the inside like a microwave hotdog. He spent two days in intensive care at Westchester Medical Center. The chief of trauma surgery there said anyone who survives a hit like that is lucky.
“It’s the equivalent of hitting the third rail in the subway. That’s exactly what it is,” Dr. J.A. Asensio said.
And that’s what it felt like — catching in from behind, pulsing up through the wet ground.
“A very strong pulse, a vibe of electricity. I felt like I was in a giant bug zapper. [I’m] happy to be alive,” Bertolf said.
And now Bertolf is trying to re-build his damaged muscles. He assured CBS 2’s Young he’d get out of the pool at the first rumble of distant thunder.
Having grown up as the sun of lobsterman, Bertolf said he was taught to respect and fear thunderstorms. He said he always expected if lightning were to find him, it would’ve been on the water, not on land.
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