Walter Summerford: The Man Struck By Lightning Four Times

Walter Summerford, a British officer, is a man who was struck by lightning four times. That’s right, four times! Many would consider this man the unluckiest man alive but living through each of these strikes was nothing short of a miracle.

 How does a person survive being hit by lightning four times? What are the odds of getting struck by lightning in the first place, and was he extremely unlucky, or was it something more? In this article, we’ll talk about Walter Summerford and his extraordinary story.

Walter Summerford

What Are The Odds You’ll Be Struck By Lightning?

Your chances are determined by how you act during thunderstorms. If you take the lightning hazard seriously and always seek shelter before it’s too late, your odds of being struck are practically nil. Lightning occurs at any time during the year, but most lightning deaths occur during the Summer, with July being the deadliest month.

However, if you ignore the thunderstorm hazard or take chances when they are around, your chances of being struck are more significant. Lightning damages not only the person who is struck but also their family and friends. Lightning injuries can be long-lasting, devastating, and costly to treat.

Most people know that being struck by lightning is an infrequent event. In the United States, there is an average of 40 million lightning strikes a year, but the odds of getting struck by lightning are less than one in a million. The odds of multiple strikes are even less than that, and almost 90% of all lightning strike victims survive the ordeal. 

Unfortunately, lightning strikes can reach 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, five times hotter than the sun’s surface. As a result, many survivors are left to deal with devastating neurological and cardiovascular complications.

In the UK, the statistics are much different, which account for the unbelievable story of Walter Summerford. In the United Kingdom, there are 300,000 lightning strikes a year, but the odds of being struck by lightning are about 1 in 15,300. This means that the odds of being struck by lightning four times are almost impossible, but that’s precisely what happened to Walter Summerford.

Walter Summerford’s Story

Walter Summerford was a Major and served in the British Army during World War I. In 1918, lightning struck Summerford while riding a horse through a field in Belgium, the first strike paralyzed him from the waist down, but it wouldn’t be permanent. Unfortunately, his condition forced the British Army to discharge him; Summerford then retired to Vancouver, where he eventually recovered and could walk again after a slow rehabilitation period.

The second strike happened in 1924, only six years later, while he was fishing on the shore of a local river. At the time, he thought nothing of it but was sitting under the wrong tree at the wrong time. Lightning struck the tree, and it jumped to him, which resulted in Summerford losing the entire right side of his body. Once again, the former officer was partially paralyzed and would undergo another bout of rehabilitation.

Miraculously, Walter Summerford recovered and regained the use of his legs once more; he spent a lot of time after that walking around and enjoying Mother Nature and all her wonders. Summerford was an avid outdoorsman and often enjoyed participating in activities such as fishing, camping, and hiking.

However, his luck would run out, as Mother Nature seemed to have a grudge against this poor man. In 1930, about six years later, Summerford was struck again while walking in a park and enjoying the beautiful scenery; this incident wasn’t like the other times he took a lightning strike and lived. After the third strike, the incident left him completely paralyzed from head to toe. There would be no rehabilitation, and he would spend the rest of his days in a hospital bed.

The doctors who examined him after the third strike said that it was a miracle he survived and that it was improbable for anyone to be struck by lightning. They also noted that the chances of anyone being struck by lightning three times were astronomical. Despite surviving the third transgression by Mother Nature, Summerford was utterly paralyzed and fighting for his life. He fought day in a day out for two more years before finally dying in 1932.

Earlier, we mentioned something about Walter Summerford and four lightning strikes, right? Even after his death, as you probably guessed, Walter Summerford was struck by lightning for the fourth time. Yes, you heard that right after his death. Defying the odds once again, Walter Summerford’s gravestone was struck by lightning about four years after he was laid to rest at the Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver.

Those close to Walter say that it was just his luck, and some say something cursed him. There may be something to this cursed option as Walter was struck by lightning every six years like clockwork. But was it a curse from a celestial being? Did Walter Summerford wrong Mother Nature in some way during his life, and she was now taking her revenge?

Was it just a tragic series of events that occurred to one man? No one will ever know for sure, but it may be that Walter didn’t heed the warning signs and observe his surroundings.

Factors That Increase The Likelihood That Lightning Will Strike You

There are a few factors that can increase the likelihood of being struck by lightning. First, you’re more likely to be hit if you spend a lot of time outdoors. If you’re involved in golf or fishing, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning. Secondly, your odds increase if you live in an area where thunderstorms are common. If you’re caught outside in a storm, here are some things you should immediately do:

  • Take shelter as soon as possible; even if the storm seems far away, lightning can strike over 20 miles from the storm’s center.
  • Keep away from ponds, lakes, or other bodies of water, as they are great conductors.
  • Don’t be the tallest thing around.
  • Remove your backpack, especially if it has metal gear that could create a “lightning rod” effect.
  • Don’t seek shelter under trees; they are usually the tallest thing around.
  • Stay off landlines, out of showers or tubs, and leave your electronics unplugged if you are using them.
  • If all else fails, assume the “lightning position:” crouch down with your hands over your ears and heels touching. This position will give the lightning an easier path through you. 

While Walter Summerford’s story is one of tragedy, it is also a story of resilience, courage, and hope. Walter was dealt a difficult hand in life, but he fought through it until the end. His story reminds us that we should never give up, no matter how difficult things might seem or the odds against us. Another lesson here is that for a man struck by lightning every six years, observing his surroundings and being smart when storm conditions are brewing is crucial. If you don’t heed the warnings, you may become the second unlucky person in history.

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