Murfreesboro teen survives lightning strike

Lightning hit really close to home for the Carter family Wednesday.

In the beginning stages of severe thunderstorms that rocked parts of Rutherford County that evening and caused structural damage to at least one home, 13-year-old Isaiah Carter was struck by lightning in front of his Murfreesboro home.

"We'd just gotten through shooting hoops ... and we were all standing around in a circle and talking. And all of a sudden, there was a lightning bolt that came right in the middle of us. It shocked the bike I was holding onto and it hit right off my knuckles and I could feel it go up my arm to my head," said Isaiah, using his left hand to demonstrate the path it traveled up his right arm.

In a state of shock, literally, Isaiah bolted for the house but stopped as he fell to the ground because of the after-effects.

"I didn't really (know what happened) after I got shocked. I was wondering what it was until I noticed lightning and thunder," Isaiah said, still rubbing his right hand, which continued to tingle a little on and off all day Thursday.

The lightning strike was so powerful, Isaiah's father, Garry Carter, saw it from inside the house.

"It just lit up purple outside, and (Garry Carter) ran out there," said Isaiah's mother, Candy Carter, who was not at at the time of the incident.

Candy Carter surmised that her son did not sustain a direct hit from the lightning bolt.

"From what we can understand, the lightning shot down in between him and the rest of the children, and we're not sure if the lightning grazed his knuckles or if it bounced back up and hit him. But he didn't get the full brunt of it," Candy said. "He was holding onto the rubber handle bars on his bike and we really think that helped (diffuse the shock) to some degree — probably slowed it down a lot."

Near the time Isaiah was struck, Candy Carter, who is director of a local street ministry, was driving down the road with a friend when they saw a lightning bolt strike in front of their car.

"Right after that I got a text from Garry that Isaiah had been struck by lightning," said Candy Carter.

Candy Carter was in the car with passenger Sarah Scott, whose husband is Dr. Joe Scott, so they called him to see what they should do. Isaiah's arm right arm was completely numb and his heart was racing.

Although there were no visible signs of damage, Dr. Scott said there could be internal damage or the shock could throw his heart off rhythm, and he advised them to head to the emergency room immediately.

Once the two women arrived at the Carter home, they loaded Isaiah in the car and headed for Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital.

"They took us right on back. We didn't have to wait," Candy Carter said.

Isaiah underwent X-rays to check for internal damage, had an electrocardiogram done and monitored his heart for two hours. During that time Candy Carter posted what happened to her son on Facebook and the outpouring of support was nothing short of amazing.

"I was blown away with how many people shared it on their Facebook pages to pray. It litearlly brought me to tears," Candy Carter said as tears welled in her eyes as she recalled the night's events.

By the time they left the ER, Isaiah had all the feeling back in his arm and no physical evidence of being hit.

"We definitely recognize the protection God provided for Isaiah. We've heard way too many tragic stories when people are hit by lightning and they permanently have brain damage or are paralyzed or deceased," Candy Carter said.

Isaiah said he's "glad I'm here" and shrugged off the attention.

Because of what happened to her son, the mother is also quick to point out the importance of heeding weather warnings about thunderstorms.

"You never expect something like this to happen. It's so random," Candy Carter said Thursday.

In honor of her son's ordeal, Candy bought him a T-shirt emblazoned with the lightning bolt symbol of DC Comics character, The Flash.

"We've kind of been comical about it to lighten the heaviness of the situation. We've made comments like, 'A superhero has been born.' In all reality, we realize how fortunate he is and we have to give God the glory for that, because today could be a really different day," Candy Carter said as more tears welled in her eyes. "As a mom, I couldn't imagine what that would look like."

Originally published in the Tennessean.

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