Julian Wilson nose-low at Canngu Rights Photo: Damea Dorsey
Lightning Kills Surfer In Bali
Visiting Belgian surfer struck dead out of the blue
While taking a surf lesson on vacation in Bali, 34-year-old Denis Andre Dasoul was struck by a bolt of lightning, while surfing in a rainstorm at Canguu, in North Kuta.
Can you imagine the horror? Growing up in Nokomis, Florida, I befriended a kind, soft-spoken gentleman by the name of Mark, a late-30s bachelor with curiously shredded, scarred ears. The old boys at the Venice Jetties ain’t ones to mince words, and at some point someone out and asked him, "Exactly what is up with those ears of yours, eh, Mark?"
Turns out he’d been struck by lightning. Passing through his body, the electricity had escaped up his spine and blown out his ears. He spoke of the subject with a stoic, tragi-comic tone.
He hadn’t been struck just once, but Twice. Now I’ve read some conflicting literature on the subject—because it is honestly fucking horrifying, considering what it must feel like, that Jah is cool with you being hunted down by electric storms and fucking blasted with a bolt of lightning more than once in your [insert religious or non-religious superior intelligence]-forsaken life—but one theory mounted that lightning strike survivors become a sort of human conduit, that lightning once it enters you and passes through, leaves something behind. Some trace element. A cosmic calling card. But much of the science community calls bullshit.
“Some have called themselves “human lightning rods,” claiming that thunderstorms would change course to find them or that they had been struck multiple times,” writes the nerds behind Science-Based Life. “But no one “attracts” lightning. The circumstances in which you find yourself may increase your chances of being struck (like working at the top of a radio tower during a storm) but who you are has zero effect of the occurrence of strikes, and it is pretty delusional to claim so. People who have been struck more than once may constantly put themselves in harm’s way. Also, a few anomalous cases of multiple strikes does not a human lightning rod make; it is a mere case of statistics and probabilities.”
Statistics and probabilities? The Gulf Coast pretty much only gets waves in thunderstorms. I basically cut my teeth in an electrical storm. And I can recall Mark, as those deep-purple thunderheads came marching from the west, cooly backpedaling to his car in his rubber-soled crocs, pulling out of the lot and heading for somewhere sheltered.
According to Radar Bali, eyewitnesses at Cangu said “The lightning bolt sent the Belgium into the ocean where local residents and tourist visitors pulled the man from the water and called an ambulance based in Canggu to the scene...
The man was unconscious when brought to shore and his chest was blue, presumably from burns suffered in the accident. The instructor also suffered burns on his thigh and left leg from the lightning hit.”
While Denis Andre Dasoul was unlucky enough to be struck in the first place, actually dying from a lightning strike is doubly rare. Lightning strikes have a mortality rate somewhere between 10% and 30%, though 80% of survivors suffer long-term injuries. The shit of epic poetry and rainy day nightmares.
Condolences to Dasoul’s family and friends. Have you or anyone you’ve known been lit up brightly, earth to angry sky? Please tell us what it feels like to ride the lightning...