The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

August 9, 2012

NASCAR lightning-strike survivor recounts ordeal

BERWICK — A man struck by lightning at last weekend's NASCAR race in Pennsylvania said he saw a brilliant flash of white and sparks flying off his hand before losing consciousness.

Travis Rauch, 35, one of 10 lightning-strike victims at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, said he was struck while helping a fellow race fan whose canopy was blowing away outside the track. One of the bolts killed a 41-year-old man as severe storms moved into the area and cut short the Pennsylvania 400.

Rauch suffered a burn on his right hand. He was released from the hospital on Monday.

A prison guard and volunteer firefighter from Salem Township in Luzerne County, Rauch said he was dazed and frozen in place when he was struck, then dropped to the ground and blacked out.

He said images of his life ran through his mind while he was unconscious, including his wedding day, the births of his two children and even episodes from his youth.

"When they say you can see your life flash before your eyes, you really can," Rauch told The Citizens' Voice of Wilkes-Barre. "I saw everything I did in my life — good and bad."

He said he never heard any warnings while at the track and didn't see or hear any thunder or lightning in the area until the strike.

"All I remember is I grabbed a hold of their canopy to help them out, and I heard the loudest bang I have ever heard in my entire life and out of the corner of my eye, you could just see pure white. It was pure, pure white," Rauch recalled. "That's when I got electrocuted. When it shocked me, I saw sparks come off the side of my hand. When that happened, I started falling backwards and couldn't catch myself. I was frozen."

 

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