According to the National Weather Service, the odds of getting struck by lightning are one in 700,000. But for Carl Mize, the odds are much greater.
Mize, a University of Oklahoma physical plant worker, has been struck four times, most recently earlier this month. And while lightning injuries can be serious and even fatal, Mize has suffered relatively minor injuries.
"I have a hole in my tennis shoe," the 45-year-old, Mize, told The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler of his latest strike.
As the bolt hit, he said his right foot bounced off the ground and his body tensed up. He then pulled off his tennis shoe and found his toes completely numb, he said.
"We were repairing a water line break up on the north campus, and a storm rolled in pretty fast," he said. Mize was the acting supervisor of a crew of four, using a backhoe to dig up a broken water line.
His co-workers, who know his history, saw lightning in the distance and began joking. Mize said co-worker Dennis Maddox told him "I'm getting away from you!" and then walked away. Mize, who has worked on utility crews at OU for 23 years, laughed at Maddox's fear- for about two seconds. Then the bolt hit.
"The guy that rides in the truck with me, he wants hazardous duty pay now," Mize told Syler laughing.
When lightning hits, Mize said he hears a big clap of thunder and has seen flashes of "blue flame." Mize said his heartbeat slowed after the latest strike, complicating an existing heart condition. He spent four days at Norman Regional Hospital and he had to go through a number of tests before being released.
Mize's introduction to lightning strikes came in 1978, when he was a young bull rider on the rodeo circuit. Mize was competing in Claremore, Okla., when a thunderstorm caused a delay. He grabbed the handle of his pickup just as lightning struck it.
Paramedics on the rodeo grounds checked him, and he refused to go to the hospital, he said.
"I was young and dumb then," Mize said.
On May 3, 1999, Mize was standing near a swing set at a relative's home in Lexington, watching turbulent weather in the distance. He had his hand on a swing chain.
"Not the smartest thing in the world to do," he said.
Lightning hit the swing set and knocked him back.
On Aug. 9, 1996, he was repairing a streetlight at OU when lightning hit a nearby 40-foot pine tree, splitting the tree in half and knocking Mize unconscious.
"It hit the tree and went over into a street light pole and knocked the top of it and followed that cable around to where I was working on it," Mize explained, "That's when it hit me. It went through my arm and then back out of my chest."
When Mize returned to work, his coworkers gave him a hard hat with a lightning bolt painted on it.
"We have a lot of pranksters around here," his supervisor Tom Hughes said.
Asked if he considered getting a desk job, Mize said, "No. I enjoy being outside. It's all right. I just need to stay in when the clouds are around."
Mize is heading back to work later Monday morning.
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