Terri Hoag is one lucky lady to have survived being struck by lightning.
On Friday evening, Hoag, 37, of Debary, Fla., was on her way with her two-year-old son, Logan, to a neighbor's house to meet her older son, Luke. They had all planned a pool outing, but a storm was coming so they decided to have an ice cream party instead. It was beginning to sprinkle, so she carried Logan to speed up the trip.
"We heard a real close lightning strike," said Dale Stevens, the neighbor that Hoag was on her way to see. "I got on the phone right away, and decided, let me call her and tell her, 'Luke's fine, Don't worry about coming over.' At the same time, as I was trying to call her house, I walked to my front door and opened the main doors of my house, and I heard Logan crying."
Stevens went outside and found Hoag lying face down, with Logan beneath her. Logan was fine, but Hoag was not breathing. She had essentially been struck dead.
Florida has by far the highest number of lightning deaths in the country -- 85 people were killed by lightning there between 1995 and 2004. Nationwide, lightning kills up to 100 Americans a year. Summer is the most dangerous season for lightning, with up to 50,000 lightning strikes a day.
Many lightning victims survive, but many survivors suffer long-term problems.
Luckily for Hoag, Stevens happened to be a firefighter and paramedic. Even more luck: neighbor Carlos Camara, who knows CPR from his Army days, happened to be passing by. The two men carried Hoag inside the Stevens' home, where they both conducted CPR on her until the ambulance arrived minutes later.
At the hospital, Hoag was put on a ventilator and listed in serious condition. By Saturday morning, the ventilator was removed. She is now talking and expected to be released from the hospital today. Doctors say she will likely have no residual damage from the incident.
Rob Hoag, Terri's husband, is thankful that his wife was wearing sneakers with thick rubber soles, which he believes helped ground her, and that Stevens was there when she was struck.
"She was right next to Dale's house, and thank God Dale was home," Rob Hoag said. "That was the first thing, when Dale's wife called me at work and told me what happened, the first question I had was, 'Is Dale home?' And thank God he was. And I knew he'd be able to at least start CPR and give her a chance."
It was also pure luck that his wife was carrying Logan, who normally would have been walking, Rob Hoag said.
Logan was unscathed from the lightning because his mother acted as a "ground," so the electricity passed right through him. If he had been walking alongside her instead, he would have been struck in the same way his mother was, and it would have been impossible for his little heart to sustain the shock.