St. Petersburg Times--Hillsborough

Construction worker struck by lightning
The 34-year-old Riverview man is in critical condition after he was struck at a work site.
By JAY CRIDLIN and KATHRYN WEXLER
St. Petersburg Times
published August 2, 2003

SUN CITY CENTER - A 34-year-old man was in critical condition Friday night after being struck by lightning at a construction site where he was using an electric drill.

The bolt hit Martin Wigley in the hip and knocked him to the ground, a co-worker said. Someone at the site performed CPR until Hillsborough County Fire Rescue arrived and took him to South Bay Hospital.

Wigley's father, Norman Wigley, kept vigil outside the emergency room Friday evening with his son's co-workers. Even though his son was on a respirator, he was optimistic.

"The doctor said he's doing better because he's now responding to the pain, whereas before he wasn't responding to the pain," said Norman Wigley, 58. "That's apparently very good."

A co-worker, Dan Caballer, said he was about 100 yards from Wigley when the bolt struck. He saw the white streak and heard the zap. The force of it was tremendous, he said.

"Boom!...(it) shredded his hat, his shirt blew open and he was laid out flat," said Caballer, 31, of Brandon.

Paramedics arrived at the construction site, at Mira Bay in Apollo Beach, shortly before 3:30 p.m. Caballer said they'd been building docks.

It wasn't raining when the bolt shot through Wigley, and a dark rain cloud looked to be a few miles away, Caballer said.

The crew was getting ready to leave, he said. Wigley was bent over his drill.

"It came up on us so fast," Caballer said.

Wigley and his father emigrated from England. Martin Wigley lives in Riverview and his father in Apollo Beach.

Norman Wigley is in the construction business, as well. Mishaps are nothing new, he said, but a lightning strike is different.

"I've obviously heard about it happening, but you don't imagine it happening so close to home," he said.

Two years ago to the day, Norman Wigley had a heart attack, he said. His son came to South Bay to support him then, he said.

- Times researcher Cathy Wos contributedto this story.