Lightning Strikes Teenager Listening To iPod

British Doctors Issued Warning 2 Weeks Ago

A teenager who was hit by lightning over the weekend talked about his close brush with death Thursday.

Jason Bunch was mowing the lawn and listening to his iPod at his home in Castle Rock in the 3200 block of Cherry Plum Way on Sunday when he was struck.

He was taken to the hospital and was then put into the intensive care unit. Bunch recovered and was released from the hospital.

"I woke up and blood was coming out my ears," Bunch, a Douglas County High School senior, said.

Bunch has large scars on his feet and smaller burn marks on his hands.

"From where the iPod was, it damaged my hearing and it ruptured my eardrums. Where the cord was, it burned me all down my body," said Bunch. "We need to shave my head because my hair is like dreadlocks. It's all sticking together."

"I'm just extremely blessed to be alive," he said.

Warning Issued Recently

It was just two weeks ago that doctors in London warned of the dangers of listening to an iPod or using a cell phone during a thunderstorm.

The doctors said having such devices near your head when hit by lightning can result in even more severe injuries. The metallic devices and wires could act as a conductor, causing potentially lethal internal injuries, the doctors wrote in a letter to the British Medical Journal.

They cited the case of a teenage girl who was using a cell phone in a London park who was hit by lightning and received very severe injuries. The 15-year-old girl later became wheelchair-bound. She has cognitive, emotional and physical problems. She also had a badly perforated eardrum in her left ear.

When a person is struck by lightning, the high resistance of human skin usually results in lightning being conducted over the skin rather than through the body -- a process known as flashover.

But Dr. Swinda Esprit said in the letter that conductive materials in direct contact with skin such as metallic objects -- like a mobile phone or iPod -- disrupt the flashover and result in internal injury with a greater risk of dying.

There were other similar cases in Malaysia in 1999, South Korea in 2004 and China in 2005. The people died in all three cases. The authors said there were no previous reports in medical journals.

"All these events resulted in death after the people were struck by lightning while using their mobile phones outdoors during storms," they wrote.

Click here to read the report in the British Medical Journal.

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