As the Special Olympics Regatta wrapped up last Saturday afternoon, a storm blew over Horn Island heading toward the beach. Longtime volunteer Ron Mucha rushed to get the boats out of the water. Lighning was close by.
"The lighning was not a bolt line off of Horn Island. It was a streak of lightning in the sky and it was a residual off of one of those boats and it went over the top of us," Mucha says.
The bolt hit the fore-stay of the hobie cat. That's the steel cable that holds the mast in place.
"It went down my arm, my neck and just dropped me down to the ground. It felt like when you were a kid and you put your finger in an electric socket to find out if there was electricity, it was just ten times greater than that. And it just gives you a real jolt."
Mucha spent several hours at the hospital, checked out okay, and even spoke at the Special Olympics banquet that night. But the next day he didn't feel so great.
"I swelled up and I lost my voice, like what happens from a football game and you been yelling for three hours and you can't talk. Well, for about three days I couldn't talk, and my wife was happy about that," he says laughing.
All joking aside, Mucha knows how lucky he is.
"I was really lucky. And anybody that's on the beach when a thunderstorm comes up, you need to get off the beach as quickly as possible cause you're just a rod. You're just standing out there."
Mucha says he hopes his scary experience will serve as a lesson to others.