Man Attempting to Capture Lightning in a Bottle Killed by Lightning
on 11/24/2004 (2)
No one has ever called John Willis a smart man. He was constantly at the bottom of his class in high school, thus knocking off the ‘smart’ portion of that statement, and numerous ex-girlfriends of John’s will also contest using the word ‘man’ to describe him. But one thing everyone can call John now is dead.
|Can it ever be done? |
That is because he was killed late Wednesday night after being struck by lightning not once, but twice in the same night.
“John had this crazy idea, it was just stupid,” said John’s longtime friend Tony. “He heard someone make an offhand remark about ‘catching lightning in a bottle’ and he took it seriously.”
“It was John’s dream to be rich,” said another friend. “No one has ever been able to catch lightning in a bottle, but he thought he could fill a few bottles and make a fortune selling them at craft shows and outside sporting events.”
John fashioned a makeshift lightning rod from some old pipes he removed from his home that he felt “weren’t that important anyways” and attached them to an old glass jam bottle using duct tape. He then had a plastic cover for the bottle, which he intended on “placing over the bottle really quickly after the lightning strikes” to trap it.
“He used a plastic cover because he didn’t want to get electrocuted,” said Tony. “He also wore rubber-soled shoes and rubber gloves, but it just wasn’t enough protection.”
John waited patiently for nearly two weeks before a lightning storm finally struck. When it did, he made his way to an open field and setup his operations.
“John placed a few bottles in the field, then put his lightning rod in the first,” said John’s girlfriend Tracy, who was with John when he was killed. “He had me hide in some bushes away from the bottles, he was afraid the lightning wouldn’t strike if it saw both of us there waiting to trap it.”
John knelt next to the bottles, one hand steadying the lightning rod, the other with the cover for the bottle, ready to trap the lightning when it struck. At approximately 8:30, John’s first chance came.
“I’ve never seen lighting so close to me,” said Tracy. “It was like a huge discontinuous natural electric discharge in the atmosphere right in front of me!”
The lightning struck the pipes but John was unable to cover the bottle.
“When it hit, it knocked John back about ten feet,” said Tracy. “He was burnt, smoking, and unconscious for the next hour.”
When John finally came to, he was even more determined to capture the lightning.
“I could see the look of determination in his face,” said Tracy. “At least, I think that was determination, but it might have just been the look of a man with no eyebrows.”
The second bolt of lightning struck an hour later.
“John was getting tired, he had rested up against the rod for support,” said Tracy. “When the lightning finally struck, it sent John flying backwards and he collapsed onto the ground.”
Paramedics at the scene pronounced John dead and “cooked to a delicious golden brown”.
John’s parents were clearly upset by the news, but didn’t feel John was solely to blame for this mishap.
“We encouraged John to always follow his dreams,” said<
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