Man gets jolt from lightning

Distance from light pole may have saved man's life

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Melissa Roddy

Pilot & Today staff
A bicyclist is happy to be alive after being caught in a fast-moving storm that rolled through Steamboat Springs on Saturday afternoon.

Mark Townsend, 36, of Steamboat Springs said he was pedaling up the bike path along Mount Werner Circle on the way to a friend's 40th birthday party when lightning struck a nearby lightpole.

The current was apparently conducted by the wet street to his bike, shocking him.

"It lit up my bike," Townsend said. "It arched off my left bar end and into my right thumb."

Another cyclist who was following Townsend up the road told him he saw what had happened, and said he noticed a burning smell when he passed the spot where the lighting hit.

Townsend said he was lucky to be holding the rubber grips on his handlebars.

That, along with the 50 or so feet between him and the lightpole, may have kept him from being seriously injured or killed.

"It (felt) more like static electricity, like when you get shocked by an outlet," Townsend said. "I'm psyched to be OK. I'm psyched to be alive."

Police checked the area and said there was no damage to the lightpole.

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