A British woman who was struck by lightning while fleeing a thunderstorm on a Croatian beach was ‘brought back to life’ after her heart stopped.
The 48-year-old woman, only identified as Danielle, was with her 19-year-old daughter when a 300-million-volt lightning bolt struck her on the head, with the massive energy surge being carried through her body by a necklace she was wearing.
She was saved thanks to the quick actions of a medic who was attending to a bike accident that had occurred just yards away during a triathlon. She is currently in critical condition in a hospital intensive care unit.
The woman from Manchester, was on vacation with her daughter Amelia, 19, and her younger son when the powerful storm hit Kasjuni beach on the outskirts of Split last Saturday.
Professor Sandra Stojanovic Stipic, who is treating the woman at KBC Hospital, told MailOnline: ‘The woman is in a medical coma, and we are constantly monitoring her.’ She was extremely fortunate because the lightning struck her head and the necklace carried the energy through her body.
‘Because of the lightning her heart stopped and she suffered asystole – that is when your heart stops – but fortunately for her the paramedics were there very quickly and they managed to restart her heart and get her breathing again.
‘At the moment she is being ventilated and in the next few days we will carry out an MRI scan to check the condition of her brain and she if there is any neurological damage.
‘We have never had a case like this in Split and we are hoping that she recovers but at the moment she is in a very severe condition. She was resuscitated at the scene and her heart restarted. She is being treated for head and chest injuries, the lightning went straight through her body after hitting her head.
‘This is a very rare situation but we are giving her the best treatment possible, she died when she was at the beach as her heart stopped but thanks to the good work of the medical teams who were nearby they brought her back to life and it was their actions that saved her life.
‘The work of the first responders was fantastic, they massaged her and it restarted, there was no heartbeat but they got it going, the issue now is to see what damaged has been done to the brain and nervous system.’
The chances of being struck by lightning are said to be one in a million, but medical studies show that around 240,000 people are struck each year, with 24,000 killed on average.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, lightning strikes 30-60 people in the UK each year, with three fatalities on average.
Golfers, walkers, swimmers, and construction workers are the most likely to be hit, and the advice is to move into a building or car as soon as possible to get out of the open.
A few minutes after the incident, footage on Croatian TV shows police on the scene but clear blue skies with swimmers returning to the sea.
Waiters in a nearby bar called Joe’s rushed to help her and one said: ‘One minute everyone was sunbathing happily on the beach the next the sky turned as black as night and a massive thunderstorm was overhead.
‘The lightning was something I have never seen before really bright flashes and you could hear them fizzing.
‘Everyone was rushing off the beach and then at one point there was a massive bang and a lightning flash at the same time and I looked out and saw the woman on the floor and her daughter with her.
‘Several people rushed to help her and then a doctor arrived to give first aid. He was helping out at the triathlon that was going on at the time.’
An FCDO Spokesperson said ‘We are providing support to the family of a British national in Croatia and are in contact with the local authorities’.