BEAR CREEK, N.C. — Mark Stinson, 57, has been struck by lightning four times. He has a box of items to prove it.

“That’s what happens to a watch that’s been hit by lightning,” he said, holding up a watch that no longer works. “I had three of them that got burned up. This was the last one.”

What You Need To Know

  • Mark Stinson has been hit by lightning four times

  • He suffers from severe headaches and short-term memory loss

  • He says his family has a history of being struck by lightning or having a natural charge

The first strike happened on a loading dock  in 1985.

The second occurred in 1993 while working under a car, which he says was the worst experience of the four.

“It was like I got covered with ants. The next thing I know, there was a loud pop and I felt like someone threw me in a bathtub of hot scalding water,” Stinson said. 

The final two strikes hit him while working in his mechanic shop, where he has since installed lightning rods.

It’s hard to put a finger on why this has happened to him so many times, but lightning strikes run in the family.

Related story: Most N.C. cities see over 2,000 lightning strikes every year

“My aunt Lee was on the back porch shelling peas and got hit by a bolt of lightning,” Stinson said. “It knocked her glasses off. She wandered out here in the woods for a couple hours.”

He also recalls his grandparents’ car taking a direct hit of lightning.

Of his maternal grandfather, Stinson said, “During World World II, he put instruments in airplanes and he could hold a compass in his hand and the compass would wander. So I kinda picked up a natural charge.”

Stinson says he still suffers from severe headaches, fatigue and short-term memory loss.

He warns others not to mess around when lightning is in the area.

“Lightning awareness is not something that everybody takes serious. They say don’t stand under a tree. If lightning is going to hit the tallest thing, it’s a tree. They’ve got good advice as to what you do in a thunderstorm. You need to learn it, you need to follow it. Make sure your kids know it,” Stinson said.

Despite his health challenges, Stinson remains glad to be alive.

“I can still walk and talk,” Stinson exclaimed. “Life is still an adventure.”