The incredible story of Roy Sullivan, the only man who survived seven lightning strikes

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Many times it is said that life offers a second chance, but in Roy Sullivan’s case it was seven. The man worked like guardian of national parks of Shenandoah and George Washington, and during his years as a ranger he survived a barrage of consecutive tragedies that were highly unusual.

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Sadly, Sullivan suffered seven direct lightning strikes. In his opinion “Guinness World Record”, Roy holds the world record for surviving the most direct lightning strikes. From the first impact in 1942 to the last in 1977, his body was covered in scars and burns, but his love for nature has never waned.

At work, Sullivan met his wife, Kathleen, who helped him recover after his sixth stroke. The couple married and lived together. Sullivan’s life and achievements are a great inspiration to many, not only for his courage in the face of the dangers of nature, but also for his ability to find love and happiness. How did he manage to survive so many lightning strikes?

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A newspaper of the time devoted an entire page to Roy's feat.

A newspaper of the time devoted an entire page to Roy’s feat.

always in danger

Roy C. Sullivan was born in Virginia, United States, on February 7, 1912, into a humble family of farmers. He grew up with his brothers and sisters on a farm in the Appalachian Mountains. In his teens, he joined a local baseball team and began showing an interest in nature and the outdoors.

Although he had wanted to join the army to fight in the Second World War, was not accepted due to an injury he had sustained in a work accident. For this he decided to start working as a park ranger in Shenandoah National Park, where the base of the Rangers was located, in Virginia. He was in charge of tending the forest, helping tourists and patrolling the roads.

In 1942, Sullivan experienced one of the greatest challenges of his life: a forest fire that consumed more than 17,000 acres. Luckily, he survived the fire and managed to save several tourists.

About this episode, Sullivan said in an interview with The Washington Post in 1969: “I’ve always said that if I had to face a fire like that again, I’d rather be struck by lightning all day than face that fiery monster!”.

Roy does his job as a park ranger at Shenandoah National Park.  Photo: Facebook/Guinness Book of Records.

Roy does his job as a park ranger at Shenandoah National Park. Photo: Facebook/Guinness Book of Records.

Seven times on the verge of death

It seemed that Sullivan had an exciting life up there. However, the most significant thing was yet to come: Roy entered the “Guinness book of records“after being struck by lightning seven opportunities. According to the book, Sullivan in his life it withstood the most electric shocks in history.

His first direct hit was in 1942, while patrolling the park. In his interview with The Washington PostSullivan explained that the lightning left burns on his legs and blew off his shoes. A year later, in George Washington National Park, Sullivan was struck by lightning. it burned his eyebrow, legs and left foot.

In 1969, while working at a fire observatory near Shenandoah Park, Sullivan was once again struck by lightning, causing minor wounds to the chest and stomach. In 1970, lightning struck Sullivan once again, this time while he was in his truck, causing minor injuries to his body.

In 1972, while in his office in Shenandoah Park, Sullivan was struck by a bolt of lightning that struck his right shoulder, leaving him with a burn. In 1973, Sullivan suffered his sixth direct impact, resulting in injuries to his ankle, leg and chest.

The last attack occurred in 1977, when lightning struck Sullivan as he was fishing in a river near Shenandoah Park. Although he suffered an upper body injury, he was able to drive to the hospital and survive.

. Sullivan described the event in these words in an interview for a television documentary: “I just felt a terrible shaking in my head and a bright light in my eyes.. I thought it was the end of my life“.

Roy Sullivan is recovering from the last shock suffered.  Photo: Twitter.

Roy Sullivan is recovering from the last shock suffered. Photo: Twitter.

a tough man

In addition to these cosmic events, Sullivan’s personal life was also surrounded by misfortunes. In 1967 his wife died in a car accident, which left him emotionally devastated. In 1972 he finally married another woman in a private ceremony at a church in Front Royal, Virginia.

Unfortunately their story did not have a happy ending. In September 1983, Roy Sullivan has died at the age of 71 from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head, after suffering from severe depression.

In his own words, Sullivan said in an interview with The Washington Post in 1977: “I’ve never been a fan of fame. I just want to keep doing my job and be somebody that the whole world can look at and say ‘This guy was really up to something.'”

Roy Sullivan’s story remains an inspiration, an example of dedication and love for nature and for his duty as a park ranger, always ready to face dangers and adversities.

Source: Clarin

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