|By Keith Morelli, Tampa Tribune, Fla.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"It's hard to exactly remember," he said. "All I know is for a second I was falling forward, and the next second I was waking up on the bow of the boat."
In between was blackness, 45 minutes of it.
Eldridge and fishing buddy
"We hadn't even gone a mile, going full speed," he said, "when the lightning came down."
Both fishermen were knocked unconscious. The teenager awoke in a pool of his blood; he had cut his chin and eyebrow in the fall.
Baker fared worse, Eldridge recounted this week in a telephone interview from his home in
"I don't know how long he was doing that," Eldridge said. He helped get Baker upright and calmed him down before calling for help. Baker spent the night in a hospital.
Later, they examined the boat and decided the bolt came in through the side and hit Baker.
"He had a scar coming up from his leg to his body," Eldridge said. "It came right up through him."
The pair were among the 49 people injured in lightning strikes in
That number is the same as died from lightning strikes in
Summer is the peak season for lightning, though people are struck year-round. In
Between 1990 and 2003,
Theories about why there are fewer fatal lightning strikes are split. Some credit prevailing weather patterns; others say people have become smarter about keeping out of harm's way.
"Last year the numbers certainly were down," said