Teenager escapes by inches when lightning hits bedstead as she sleeps

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The Independent Online

A 15-year-old girl has described her narrow escape from a bolt of lightning which travelled through her metal bedstead, inches from her head, as she slept.

The electric charge hit the roof of Sophie Wiltshire's home in Elberton, in Gloucestershire, just after midnight yesterday. The lightning conducted through the house and hit the frame on Sophie's bed, but luckily the teenager was not touching the metal headboard.

The impact of the lightning caused the ceiling to collapse in her bedroom.

Sophie said: "I just remember falling asleep and the next thing I knew I was outside the house.

"My sister Kim was screaming and had pushed my door open and managed to get me out.

"There's big black marks on my wall, where the lightning hit. I was very lucky, but it's all a bit strange."

Yesterday one wall was left scorched black behind the headboard, showing just how close she had come to being seriously injured in the incident.

Her 14-year-old sister, Gina, was also lucky to escape unharmed after her bedroom ceiling also caved in. "I just heard this bang and saw this plaster coming down. I thought I had fallen through the ceiling," she said.

No one was injured in the lightning strike, although Sophie suffered an asthma attack and was treated at the scene by paramedics.

Clive Wiltshire, 51, an accountant, and his wife Judie, 48, were at home with their children Sophie, Gina, Tom, 22, Kim, 21, and her boyfriend Dave Fairweather, 20, when the lightning hit. The family fled the house and stayed the rest of the night at a neighbour's house as firefighters cordoned off their five-bedroomed home.

The lighting also damaged a third bedroom, and the roof. "It's not been a good start to the new year, but at least everyone is okay," Mrs Wiltshire said. "We're quite calm about it. We're trying to get through to our insurance people but because it's New Year's Eve, it's difficult," she said.

A spokesman from Avon fire and rescue service said that the teenager and her family had all been "incredibly lucky" to have escaped uninjured.

"The 15-year-old girl was in her bed and we believe the lightning was conducted through the roof and hit the metal bedstead. She was incredibly lucky. She was on the mattress and wasn't touching the metal head board. If she had been touching it, well it could have been very serious. It brought on an asthma attack and she received treatment by ambulance crew.

"The ceilings all collapsed on the first floor, but again luckily no one was injured.

"The roof is severely damaged and the property has been cordoned off and all the loose tiles have been taken off the roof.

"It's hard to know when they'll be able to return to their home. But they've been very, very lucky."