Grayslake landscaper shocked in lightning strike

A landscape employee is resting at home after being shocked during a lightning strike early Friday, and one doctor said the victim is “very lucky” the outcome wasn’t worse.

Officials said the victim, a 35-year-old man, was shocked while at work at Landscape Concepts in the 3100 block of Allegheny Road in Grayslake about 5:50 a.m.

Company spokesman George Markoutsas said lightning hit a lightning rod attached to a building, then carried through the facility and shocked the employee as he opened a door.

The employee, who asked to not be identified and did not want to be interviewed, received a shock hard enough to disorient him, Markoutsas said.

“Police and fire were called in as is always the case when one of our facilities are struck by lightning,” he said. “He told officers he was all right and didn’t want to go to the hospital, but the other employees encouraged him to go because you never know how the body will react to something like that.”

Markoutsas said the employee was conscious and speaking after the incident. The employee was taken by ambulance to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville where he was checked out and released.

“Doctors told him that he will remain disoriented for a little while, until the shock completely wears off, but he will be fine,” Markoutsas said. “He is currently resting comfortably at home.”

Dr. John Piotrowski, the associate medical examiner of the emergency department at Condell, said lightning kills 3,000 people a year — roughly one of every five who are involved in a lightning strike die.

Piotrowski said direct hits from lightning can often lead to catastrophic results, but even an indirect hit can result in cardiac and respiratory arrest in some individuals.

An indirect strike, like the one in Grayslake, can lead to injured shoulders, ruptured ear drums and even retinal detachment, he explained.

“A lightning strike — even an indirect strike like happened Friday — can be quite painful,” Piotrowski said. “It all really depends on the point of impact compared to where the person is situated.”

About 15,000 people per year are injured in lightning strikes in the U.S., or more than the number of deaths and injuries from tornadoes,” Piotrowski said.

“I’d say the person struck was very lucky,” he added.

The strike was part of a heavy storm that hit northern Illinois about 4 a.m. Friday and ran off and on throughout the morning, said Richard Castro, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service.

It was part of multiple waves of rain and storms that blanketed the area stemming from this week’s Midwest heat wave, Castro said.

The storms, capable of producing gusting winds and heavy lightning, was also capable of producing “extremely efficient rainfall” similar to a tropical storm, he said.