As if Mondays couldn’t get any worse.
Construction worker Jose Campos, 48, was tending to his typical job responsibilities at Roman Stone Construction Company of Bay Shore when the improbable happened.
Around 10 a.m., the Central Islip man was outside at Roman Stone when he watched lightning crash down from the cloudy skies and hit the pavement nearby.
Within milliseconds, Campos helplessly watched as electricity from the bolt traveled across the ground and into his feet and up his body.
The shock immediately crippled Campos, who suffered from short-term paralysis.
He couldn’t feel his limbs and felt as if his “organs were shutting down,” he told reporters Tuesday at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore.
After falling to the pavement and laying there for 15 to 20 minutes, he knew he had to do something to save his life.
With immense tingling sensations throughout his body, he managed to muster up the energy to make his way toward his company’s office, which was about 150 feet away.
It started as a crawl, until he made his way to his feet.
After opening the doors, a co-worker soon called 911. Campos was immediately transported to Southside.
The hospital’s chief of trauma surgery, Dr. Michael Grossman, was among the first to treat him.
“He was awake, he was conscious, and was able to report what happened in his own language,” he said.
“In my own experience, if a person is directly hit by lighting, they don’t often survive.”
According to the National Weather Service, lightning kills an average of 47 Americans per year.
As far as damage, Campos was lucky to not suffer structural injuries — meaning he has no broken bones, burn wounds, and no devitalized bodily tissues.
But, that doesn’t mean he isn’t in pain.
Campos sat at the crowded press conference on Tuesday, telling his story, where he often became teary-eyed from the residual aftershock.
“It’s like tripping a circuit breaker on the body,” said Greg Garra, Southside’s associate chairman of emergency medicine. “So it can stop the heart, it can stop the breathing.”
Going forward, there could be long-term effects from the strike — such as cataract formation as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, says Garra.
“To be involved in a lightning strike, and be able to 10 minutes later to crawl and talk… is very fortunate,” he said.
In the press conference, Campos — through a translator — kept reiterating the importance of workplace safety, especially for those laboring outdoors.
“The only thing I ask to people in the construction business is to please stay away when its bad weather,” said Campos, who is married with two children.
Top: Jose Campos, 48, teary-eyed at a press confrence on Tuesday.
(Credit: Nicholas Esposito)