By Katrina England
Reporter, Hart Co. News-Herald
On May 8, Michelle Meredith was traveling southbound on I-65 with her granddaughter when something nearly unbelievable happened. Her car was struck by lightning.
They had just gotten on the interstate in Park City when the incident occurred.
“I saw either a bolt or fire, not sure which, right beside the passenger side window,” recalled Meredith. “My granddaughter was sitting in that seat. As for the sound, it was very loud and then everything sounded muffled for several seconds.”
Meredith said the car did not appear to be on fire at first.
“We got pulled over into the emergency lane and unbuckled,” she added. “I was initially afraid to get out because of the rain and lightning and the potential of getting struck. However, we then started smelling smoke and I noticed it rolling from under the hood. We got out before you could actually see the fire. It was contained to the front.”
The Cave City Fire Department responded to the incident, contained the fire, which has still only partially engulfed the red Honda Accord, and ensured there were no injuries.
“The fire department confirmed that day at the fire that it was due to lightning,” said Meredith. “It went through the back glass and then there were two places that looked like bullet holes.”
According to the National Weather Service, vehicles are at risk of being struck by lightning just like anything else outside. Typically, lightning strikes the antenna or roof line, and will then pass through the vehicle’s outer metal shell, then through the tires to the ground.
The National Weather Service also reports that while the metal shell of hard-topped vehicles typically protect those inside, vehicles typically sustain significant damage to the antenna, electrical system, rear windshield, and tires.
“It was all pretty surreal,” said Meredith. “I think I just went into ‘momma bear’ mode, because of my granddaughter, and it just really didn’t register until later.”