Lightning struck a pickup truck traveling on a rural highway Saturday, May 31, outside of Tofield, Alberta, Canada — and the incredible moment was captured by surveillance video. While the odds of getting hit by lightning in the first place are extremely slim — estimated at about 1 in 1 million — what are the chances of a lightning strike being caught on video?
But, the best part of the story is that the couple inside the vehicle, though frightened and shaken up — came through the terrifying, and terrifyingly random close encounter with death just fine. Al and Betty Perry survived, they say, thanks to a quick-thinking Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer who pulled them out of the smoke-filled cabin of the pickup.
As you’ll see in the video, the Perrys are simply cruising down Highway 14 in Alberta when a bolt of lightning turns their pickup into a rolling fireball. The cabin immediately filled with smoke that threatened to overcome Al and Betty Perry. The lightning strike instantly melted pieces of the vehicle, burned out the truck’s electrical wiring, and turned the silver Chevy into a rolling death trap.
“It’s an awful feeling to have. I saw our lives passing before my eyes,” Al Perry told CTV News. Because the electrical system was fried, the Chevy’s power windows would not open — though the truck’s airbags did, slamming into the Perrys.
“I put my two feet up against the window and I tried to kick the window out. I don’t know how many times I tried and tried and tried,” Al recalled.
Fortunately, RCMP Constable Brian Jamont, by pure chance, was driving just a few hundred yards away from the lightning strike and saw the whole thing.
“I’ve never seen anything like that. I’ve seen them off in the distance, hit trees before, but never like that,” Jamont said. But as awestruck as he was, Jamont immediately went into action. He drove his unmarked vehicle next to the lightning-stricken pickup and used his baton to smash through the jammed window.
“I couldn’t see in the cab of the truck, it was full of smoke,” Jamont described. “As I approached the driver’s side, the gentleman inside was trying to kick the window out. He couldn’t get it kicked out.”
After breaking the window, Jamont ducked, to shield himself from any possible blast of flame. But there was none. Only thick, suffocating smoke.
“One thing I know for sure, I will take this to my grave, if that police officer wouldn’t have been there, we wouldn’t be here,” said Al Perry.
The lightning strike itself — though as loud as a “sonic boom,” according to Al — appears not to have injured the Perrys in any way. Only the smoke posed a danger, as it turned out. And thanks to the alert actions of a lone police officer, the Perrys were able to celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary last week.