OAKLAND – Nathan Natole, 18, was sitting in his living room about 8:30 p.m. July 21, playing poker on his laptop.

Outside, a light rain fell and rumbles of thunder echoed in the distance.

The laptop’s battery was running low, so Natole told his mother, Pam, that he was going downstairs to his bedroom to recharge it. He sat on his bed, his back against the wall, the computer on his lap.

About five minutes later, there was a loud “boom” and a flash of light that tripped the smoke alarms and a circuit breaker.

Pam Natole ran to the top of the stairs and yelled, “Nate, are you all right?”


Downstairs, she found her son “in a full seizure,” with blood spilling from his mouth because he had bitten his tongue. She called 911 and was told to try and flatten out his shaking body.

“As I grabbed his legs, I felt the electricity in my hands,” Pam recalled. “Then he went limp.”

Nathan Natole spent two days in the hospital before returning home.

In a recent interview, Natole said he has recovered, the only lasting evidence of the incident a scar on his left leg and a small patch of scorched hair on the back of his head.

Natole recently graduated from Messalonskee High School and plans to attend Husson University in Bangor this fall.

Although the National Weather Service says the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are one in 750,000, Natole’s experience comes on the heels of a similar case several miles away.

Vicki Nadeau, 20, of Winslow apparently was struck by lightning June 20 in Waterville. Nadeau, a waitress at Ruby Tuesday, was walking out to the parking lot during a storm when she was zapped and thrown back against a wall, leaving her bloodied and burned.

John Jensenius, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Maine and national spokesman for lightning awareness, said the two local incidents are the only ones he’s aware of this year in Maine.

“It’s fairly unusual for people to be struck by lightning, but at the same time it’s probably not as unusual as people think,” Jensenius said, “but it is unusual to have two people being struck and injured in two separate incidents so close together.”

An estimated 500 to 600 people are hit by lightning in the U.S. each year, Jensenius said, and about one in 10 are killed. As of Thursday, 21 Americans had died from lightning strikes so far this year, he said. Maine has had five fatalities in the past decade.

Nathan Natole said he has no memory of the lightning strike. One minute he was using the laptop; the next he was in the emergency room at Inland Hospital in Waterville — he was later transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

Natole underwent X-rays and tests during two days at the hospital and was determined to be OK. Pam Natole said her son was “quite the attraction” in Bangor — hospital officials were interested in his case because it appeared that the electrical current had traveled through both his heart and brain.

Natole said he had been diagnosed with mononucleosis earlier that week and said he was feeling more pain from the viral illness than from being zapped by lightning.

His laptop appeared to be unharmed by the lightning strike.

“I’m just happy to be alive,” he said. “I am a little nervous about storms now.”

For Pam Natole, the experience has been a wake-up call to be extra careful when a storm is nearby.

“It’s a good lesson,” she said. “People need to think twice.”