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3 escape power of lightning

New Hamphsire Union Leader

July 05. 2012 8:31PM
After being hit by lightning at the same spot in Weirs Beach on the Fourth of July, three Boston area residents, Peter Arsenault, Courtney Mulcahey and Scott Chamberlain sport their hospital bracelets. The three were kept overnight at Lakes Region General Hospital for observation with Chamberlain suffering the worst, most painful of the injuries, while tending a gas grill outside their rented cottage on Hillcroft Road. They all suffered temporary memory loss but were back enjoying their vacation, Thursday. (Paula Tracy/Union Leader)

LACONIA - A class reunion group from the Burlington (Mass.) High School class of 2003 experienced a lightning strike Wednesday that injured three people during a barbecue on Weirs Beach.

Peter Arsenault, Scott Chamberlain and Courtney Mulcahey, all from the Boston area, were taken by ambulance from their cottage at 53 Hillcroft Road about 6 p.m. Wednesday to Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia after lightning struck the area.

It came at a time when there were many lightning strikes of buildings in the area and significant wind damage in the Tilton area.

On Thursday after spending the night at the hospital, the three were back among their friends sporting their hospital bracelets, and while laughing, were still visibly shaken by the experience and declined to discuss it. But their friends recalled the fright.

'It came on very quickly,' said Yianni Skourtis of Boston, 'We could see the storm coming, then there was bang and they ran into the house,' he said.

Chamberlain felt intense pain all over, the three had temporary memory loss, and Mulcahey had pain in her hands.

Skourtis said the three were outside the door next to the gas grill and were removing steak tips, hot dogs and chicken. He said one of the three was handing a hot dog to the other and the other had a hand on the shoulder of the other when the bolt likely struck the tin roof of the camp, which was connected by a gas line to the grill, he said.

Residents and vacationers along the road, which borders Pickerel Cove and Paugus Bay, reported that the thunder was the loudest they had ever encountered.

Jim Peabody of 92 Hillcroft Road said he had just come in from cleaning his boat in his yard a little after 5:30 and was taking a shower when he heard 'a heavy bang,' pointing up towards the hillside near his house, not far from the house where the three were struck.

'I was petrified,' said Lou Peabody, noting she was cleaning out her closet so she could go hide in it when the bolt struck.

Patti Taylor at 106 Hillcroft Road said she heard 'a loud boom and it was nothing like I ever heard before,' she said.

Michelle Levell of Windham, renting a house on the end of the road for the week, said her family had just come in and was cooking dinner when the bolt struck, and it knocked out a kitchen light over the sink at 192 Hillcroft Road.

'It was intense,' she said.

There was, however, little structural damage and no fire associated with the bolt.

Skourtis said the three who were outside were able to scramble into the house but it was obvious all three needed medical attention.

Laconia Fire Department responded within minutes of the 911 call and took the three to the hospital.

Jannelle Iaquinto of Boston said she believes that the bolt did not strike the three directly but likely hit either the roof or the ground near the house.

'The 'pop' was so loud people leaped in the air,' she said.

The group, which is made up primarily of the 2003 Burlington (Mass.) High School class, gets together annually for a week each summer but Skourtis said this one will be memorable for years go come.

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