Tampa doctor survives lightning strike on I-4

Doctor says lightning hit car while driving on I-4
Posted at 1:54 PM, Jul 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-18 18:40:56-04

A Tampa doctor said he feels grateful to have survived a lightning strike on his car.

Dr. Barry Schapiro and a friend were driving home on I-4 after visiting his grandchildren when he said he saw a bright light.

"We saw the brightest, whitest, biggest light you'll ever see," Schapiro said. "At the same time, there was an explosion sound. We thought a bomb went off."

Schapiro said the sound was his car's antenna being struck by lighting. He said he instantly pulled to the side of I-4, where the car behind him also pulled over.

The three women in that car told him he had been struck by lightning, Schapiro said.

The National Weather Services says they really haven't heard of too many times lightning has struck cars especially with people inside. But that doesn't mean you should underestimate the danger.

"People just don't understand how truly deadly it is," said Marc Austin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Austin said if you hear thunder, you should immediately get inside because lightning can strike ten miles away from a storm. If you can't get inside, Austin said get in your car.

"The car actually acts as part of a cage that protects you from the lightning," he said. "The lightning is routed through that cage."

And the most important thing he said is to roll up your window.

"If you've got your window open, there's a better chance some of that could actually get into that vehicle," he said.

Schapiro and his passenger were not injured.

"The lightning bolt, as powerful as it was, I'm lucky we weren't killed," Schapiro said.

However he said the car will no longer start and the electrical system may be fried.