Twenty Seconds – Lightning Strike Survivor Shares Story

In dangerous situations, many of us are forced to make snap judgments. When a storm is brewing, the stakes are even higher. For some, those decisions have profound effects for years to come. And sometimes, all it takes is twenty seconds.

Hear lightning strike victim Christel Bivens tell her story:

“THERE WAS a big storm that came through our area,” said Christel Bivens, and “the last thing that I thought was going to happen to me that evening was to be struck by lightning.”

The Germantown, Md., resident was safely inside her house when the storms came on the evening of May 27. She wanted to stay out of harm’s way until it was safe to go outside.

However, her 10-week-old golden retriever, Kodiak Bear, couldn’t wait for the storm to blow over. He was restless and eager to go to the bathroom. So Bivens made a snap decision to pick him up and take him out.

“I just said, what the heck, I’m going to take a twenty-second calculated bet that I’m going to be able to get out there and bring the puppy in within twenty seconds. What could possibly happen in twenty seconds?” said Bivens.

A lot can happen in twenty seconds.

“I looked down at him – I saw his big brown eyes looking up at me,” she said. “I bent down to pick him up and the next thing I know I was six feet, seven feet away, pulling myself off the ground.”

  • Christel Bivens. Credit: Sonya Bessalel
  • Bivens wore these flip-flops the day of the strike. Here, she stands next to a spot struck by lightning. Credit: Sonya Bessalel
  • Christel Bivens and her golden retriever, Kodiak Bear. Credit: Sonya Bessalel
  • Christel Bivens' backyard, where the strike occurred. Credit: Sonya Bessalel .
  • Kodiak Bear frolics on the lawn. Credit: Sonya Bessalel


After the strike, Bivens could only hear a high-pitched ringing in her ears, and felt “like somebody had taken a fishbowl and put it over my head.” Her hair and scalp were also burned, she suffered a concussion and was left with a bad bump on her head. Bivens said it was “like being hit by a Mack Truck.”

Although the doctors say the aftereffects, such as nerve damage, of the lightning strike and concussion will heal over time, they are unsure of the long-term effects.

Bivens now believes that it is her duty to warn others so they don’t have to go through the same ordeal. Here is a Facebook status she posted a few days after the incident:

Christel Bivens Status

Christel Bivens’ status warning others not risk being struck.
Credit: Courtesy Christel Bivens

Bivens now believes that it is her duty to warn others so they don’t have to go through the same ordeal and perhaps was left alive to warn others of the dangers of being outside during a storm. “It was a bad calculated risk that I took. And I don’t think enough people understand how serious of a bet that was,” said Bivens.

As she pieces her life back together, Bivens will feel the repercussions of this strike for a long time to come.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a storm coming in and didn’t think it was a big deal to (run outside),” she said. “I can tell you what; I won’t be doing it again.”


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This entry was posted in Awareness, General, Lightning, When Weather Attacks!.