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Evergreen man survives lightning strike on wedding day

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By Vicky Gits

Usually the groom doesn’t get much attention, but on Mike Speck’s wedding day, he stole the show — first by surviving a lightning strike, then by putting out a fire at a neighbor’s house.

His new bride, Dawn Williams, is just happy the paramedics didn’t take him away in an ambulance before the nuptial celebration at the Evergreen Elks.

The couple were at home about 1 p.m. on Park Street off Highway 73 at the Wonderview turnoff. They were rushing to get everything ready for the big event, which started at 6 p.m. with a pre-wedding party. The ceremony was timed to take place at 8:08 p.m., echoing the lucky calendar date, 8/8/08.

“We were doing the dishes, and we saw a huge flash of light,” Williams said. “We felt it shake the whole house. One of the guests who was here almost had a heart attack.”

Then Speck came running.

“His face was so incredulous. He said, ‘I just got hit by lightning.’ ”

Speck had been standing outside filling a camper trailer with water. He had one arm on the camper, and the other hand held the hose. There was a black cloud and some rain; he saw the flash and heard the thunder simultaneously.

Given the pending wedding, Speck probably wasn’t thinking of the danger. Located on a rocky knob peppered with 50-foot ponderosas at about 7,500 feet, Speck’s house presents a likely target.

But anyone observing the three steel campers he had parked in his backyard under the power line, among a supply of aluminum ladders, might suspect a virtual lightning magnet.

Speck seems to have an affinity for lightning — and something of an immunity to it. His Harley is painted in a lightning theme, with blue bolts covering the gas tank and fenders. Years ago, he was hit by lightning while working on a job in El Pinal.

Considering how much damage the strike caused elsewhere, it’s amazing Speck came out unscathed. He felt the charge go through his finger, arm and stomach.

But the bolt left no other marks on his body or visible aftereffects, Speck said. Paramedics who tested him later said his blood pressure had soared to 250 over 180, then dropped back to normal.

A 54-year-old contractor who has lived in Evergreen since 1989, Speck had big plans to install whole-house surge protectors in his neighbors’ houses after the wedding when things calmed down.

After the lightning strike, the immediate problem wasn’t Mike’s condition; it was the house next door. Lightning had set the roof on fire. Mike and a neighbor, Joe Turner, picked up the hose and ran over to the neighbors’ while Dawn called 911 and reported the fire.

“He was a hero for putting out the fire in the attic,” said the newlywed.

“I see him running with a ladder. I’m watching the whole thing and talking to 911,” Williams said.

“We think it hit a power line and traveled down the wires to his attic,” Speck said.

The fire did a significant amount of damage to the house of neighbors Bill and Colleen Borman. The blast punctured two holes in the roof and fried a couple of TV receivers, two computers in the office and a 24-inch monitor.

In all, five houses were hit by the one strike, Speck calculated, as neighbors gathered Monday night to hash out the damage.

Seven people were at Speck’s log ranch house getting ready for the wedding when the fire trucks started rolling in, as well as someone from Fox 31 with a camera.

“It was pretty comical,” Williams said. “I didn’t even have a chance to take a shower.”

Paramedics discussed the idea of putting Speck in an ambulance, but then his blood presure started to drop. Speck just wanted the TV cameras and the firefighters to go away. “It was a zoo. I’m trying to get ready and get out of here,” he said.

It all turned out perfectly in the end. It rained, but when it was time for the wedding march, the sun came out, just as the Beatles song “Here Comes the Sun” started to play.

The couple plan to enjoy a tropical honeymoon sometime in the dead of winter.

“Thankfully, the lightning didn’t get him,” Williams said.