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An airport worker is lucky to be alive after being struck by a lightning bolt at Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Ft. Myers late last month. The worker, 21-year-old Austin Dunn, was assisting a departing Sun Country Airlines jet when a lightning bolt hit the plane’s tail, sending a jolt of electricity through the plane’s fuselage and into Dunn’s arm.
The incident was captured on security footage released on Tuesday by a local NBC affiliate. Shot from multiple angles, the video shows the terrifying moment that the lightning strikes the tail, as well as the current passing across the fuselage and into Dunn, who was standing near the nose of the plane. Seen wearing an orange safety jacket, Dunn falls to the ground almost immediately. He was hospitalized and treated for third degree burns, muscle damage and brain bleeding but thankfully was released from the hospital after two weeks, according to Travel+Leisure.
Airport ground crews are at extremely high risk for lightning strikes, according to a 2016 OSHA fact-sheet, and it’s not hard to understand why. The tarmac is rife with OSHA-identified risk-increasing features — it’s a wide-open outdoor environment surrounded by tall objects and peppered with massive, rolling electric conductors. The News-Press, a local paper, reports that RSW had activated a lightning warning system at the time that Dunn was struck, meaning that all airport personnel had to take cover. But the paper notes that Dunn was employed by outside contractor NavStar Global Aviation and therefore wasn’t required to follow the same safety protocols. NavStar Global Aviation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Featured image of a lightning strike courtesy of Nancy Newell via Getty Images.
H/T: NBC News
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