Sheriff: Man struck by lightning in ‘very critical condition’

Charles Warner Editor

September 4, 2013

UNION — A Union man remained hospitalized in critical condition Tuesday after being struck by lightning over the weekend.

The Union County Sheriff’s Office said Steve Becknell, 50, 196 Boatman Springs Road in Union, was struck by lightning while he stood under an oak tree at his home. The report stated that Becknell and two other men were working on an 18-wheeler on Sunday when they noticed lightning in the distance.

Union County EMS was dispatched to the scene where they shocked Becknell twice with an AED and got him breathing on his own. He was taken to Wallace Thomson Hospital and then transferred to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center.

Sheriff David Taylor said he was told Tuesday morning that Becknell was still in the hospital in critical condition.

“His condition is not good,” Taylor said. “He is in very critical condition as of this morning.”

Taylor, who investigated the incident along with Capt. Robbie Hines, said Becknell was struck by lightning that had passed through the tree and then came up from the ground.

“Lightning struck the tree and ran down the tree into the roots,” Taylor said. “He was standing over the root and the lightning came up out of the ground and struck him.”

Taylor said that by the time he and Hines arrived on the scene, Becknell had been taken by EMS to the hospital. The doctor who treated Becknell told Taylor he’d been electrocuted from the inside of his body.

Two other men, who had walked to a shed while Becknell walked under the tree, were not injured.

One of the men told investigators that after a few minutes he and the man who’d accompanied him were leaving to get something to drink when they heard a loud crack. They looked over at the tree Becknell had been standing under and saw he was on the ground. They began doing chest compressions and called 911.

Taylor said his office responds and investigates incidents like the lightning strike — which is not criminal in nature — as a matter of practice because it helps information flow between agencies and officials if someone does die.

“We’ve gotten where we respond to such things like that to rule out any foul play,” Taylor said. “Also, we have documentation for the family for insurance if they need them.”

Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at cwarner@civitasmedia.com.