Sunday, August 14, 2005

Electrocution at Central Park

I saw a woman get hit by lightening today. I was standing less than 20 feet away from her, taking shelter from a sudden summer storm when the lightening shot down and hit her. She fell to the ground and at first I thought she had just jumped because she was scared, but then she called out to me: "help, help, help..." in this raspy, wavering and completely petrified voice. She had been standing under a tree, right near Strawberry Fields, no doubt on her way to summer stage to see the show as I was. I went over to her and pushed the hair off her face--she was ice cold and the palest I'd ever seen a person, with dark almost black eyes that searched my face for some kind of reassurance that she wasn't going to die. I asked if she was ok, and she told me no, that she couldn't feel herself. I screamed out for help in the direction of the club house down the path and when someone peaked their head out told them to call the paramedics, that a woman had been hit by lightening. That brought out some spectators and within a minute, there were people all around us asking what happened and trying to make sure she was breathing. By this time the smell had become almost over powering--I've never smelled anything as horrible as burning hair and flesh, it was almost worse than watching her fingernails and toenails fill with blood just under the surface. Finally an ambulance came and the paramedics took over and by this time she was more aware of what had happened and asked me to call her aunt Mizuki. I called and listened to her aunt grow more and more hysterical as I relayed the details. It was completely understandable--no one ever expects to get the phone call "excuse me, you don't know me, but I'm sitting here next to your loved one who's just been hit by lightening." The paramedics got her on to a strecher and I hung up the phone and put it as gently as I could in to her front pocket. The whole time it had still been downpouring and I was soaked and shaken to the core. After speaking with police the I walked in the rain to a diner and sat down for a cup of coffee and wondered what the hell had just happened. I've been thinking about her constantly for the past few hours, wondering if she'll be alright and the same person tomorrow that she was before being struck. Eventually I left and went to to see the show, a Japanese ska band opening for Barrington Levy, but I couldn't get the image of those dark eyes out of my mind.