Sanford, N.C. — A person died after being struck by lightning Tuesday night in Sanford, according to a neighbor who witnessed the scene.
The incident happened on Vance Street at about 7:30 p.m. as strong storms moved through the area.
Neighbors said the storm was punctuated by a particularly loud lightning strike on a tree at the corner of Vance and Crestview streets.
Neighbor Harmon Cochrane said he came outside to find authorities surrounding a person who was dead on the ground.
“Every now and then you would hear a little lightning but for one instance you heard two big booms and I just took for granted that the lightning hit something. I never thought it was going to be the individual, never did,” he said. “That was a serious freak accident there, oh my God.”
WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said North Carolina is the third deadliest state for lightning strikes, behind Florida and Texas. Maze said 198 people in the state have been killed by lightning between 1959 and 2016.
Cochrane said he thinks the lightning victim may have gone under the tree to get away from the heavy rain.
“Where that gentleman was, by a tree, that is not the place to be.