Lightning strikes boater Billy Gressinger during a weekend fishing trip

Hospitalized overnight for observation

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - Billy Gressinger and son Mickey were about five miles offshore Saturday making their way back to the inlet when lightning struck.

"I was driving and I saw out of the corner of my eye a huge ball of sparks," recalled Mickey.

Lightning hit the boat's antenna.

A fishing pole was fried, but even scarier, electricity surged through Billy's body.

"The hand went totally numb, changed colors.  The knee hurt pretty good, I looked at it, it went to (a) really strange dark purple, blue."

Billy thinks the bolt escaped through his knee, leaving a small hole in the console.

"I was thinking that was the worst lightning I had been in.  Storms... I've been in worse but not that bad a lightning storm," said Billy. 

Eventually his strength and color returned.  But the boat wasn't going anywhere.

"We were dead, dead in the water," said Mickey.

"For about 45 minutes we sat here under no power and the lightning was absolutely horrendous.  It was spooky," said Billy.

The lightning bolt knocked out communication to the boat but fortunately Billy and Mickey had a backup plan.  

On Monday Mickey showed off a new portable VHF radio they had used to contact the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard arrived with medics to take Billy to the hospital.  A good Samaritan, also heading to shore, helped tow the boat in.

Is there any hesitation now to go back on the water?

"None whatsoever.  We have another new boat coming," laughed Billy.

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