By Gary Nelson

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A south Florida woman was jolted by lightning Monday morning while heading to work in Lauderdale Lakes.

Security video shows 27-year-old Lauren Potts with an umbrella crossing the parking lot at the Lauderdale Lakes Swimming Pool complex, located near NW 30th Ave and NW 39th Street, shortly after 9 a.m. Monday.

The video system takes a sudden hit and then the woman, umbrella knocked from her hand, scurries into the building. She had taken a severe jolt from a nearby lightning strike.

“Even with indirect lightning strikes you can have injuries. The electricity, the current, can disrupt the heart rhythm and your cardiovascular system. So she’s getting checked out. She was conscious and alert,” said Mike Jachles of Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue.

Potts has been a lifeguard and swimming teacher at the facility for nine years.

The complex is equipped with a lightning alarm system that had sounded but she did not hear it from her car.

“She was sitting in her vehicle to allow the rain to pass. Once the rain past, she took her umbrella and headed into the building and before she could get in that’s when she was struck,” Lauderdale Lakes spokesperson Marna Mobley said.

It’s believed the lightning in fact struck a concrete communications tower the length of a football field away.

The base of the tower had a five-foot section of its concrete base blown out, scattered on the ground below.


sdsa Woman Jolted By Lightning In Lauderdale Lakes

A 5-foot long portion of its base appears to have been blasted out and was scattered on the ground below. (Source: CBS4)

The force of a more direct hit was illustrated two weeks ago in Pembroke Pines when lightning killed one construction worker and critically injured another.

Potts got the shock of her life Monday morning, but escaped with her life.

“I had a brief conversation with her. She’s doing wonderful,” said Mobley.

Potts described the sensation as being shocked, a sort of burning feeling.

She was released after being checked out for two hours at Florida Medical Center.

Jachals said Monday morning’s incident is a cautionary reminder that we live in the “lightning capital of the nation.”  An average of six people a year are killed by lightning in Florida, and an average 39 others are injured, Jachles said.

“Be aware of the weather around you, take shelter when threatening weather approaches, and even indoors stay away from windows and don’t touch metal objects that can conduct electricity,” Jachles said.

Report: Florida Leads Nation In Deaths Caused By Lightning

There are apps available that can tell you where the closest, most recent lightning strike occurred.  The WeatherBug website advises you to seek shelter if lightning has been detected within 10 miles in the previous 30 minutes.  WeatherBug and other available apps provide real-time lightning scans.


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