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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Dorchester lightning strike victim released from hospital

Colin Tsuboi
A person walks past Boston Medical Center. Photo by Colin Tsuboi / Mass Media Staff.

According to the National Weather Service, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are less than one in a million. Examining the data even closer, the odds of being struck in a single lifetime are one out of 15,300. Although 90 percent of victims survive, the remaining percent do not. [1] They either suffer cardiac arrest at the time of the strike or succumb to injuries later. This month, one woman beat those odds.

Thalita Teixeira Padilla, a 31-year-old travel nurse, was released from Boston Medical Center after a month of treatment. Padilla had been placed in intensive care ever since she was struck by lightning. According to WCVB, the incident occurred on Sept. 9, when Padilla was out walking her dog Bruce at Savin Hill Beach. She stopped to speak with another woman, when a lightning bolt struck the area where they were standing, throwing both women into the air. While the other woman suffered no injuries from the actual strike, Padilla fared much worse; a burn wound on her chest, an exit wound on her lower back and other such injuries left her in critical condition. Were it not for the timely response of local residents and emergency workers, Padilla would not have survived. [2]

Savin Hill residents noticed Padilla on the beach and carried her away from the rain to perform CPR on her body. Among these residents was Tracy Cronin, an Intensive Care Unit nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital. She and her boyfriend, an Emergency Room nurse, took turns performing CPR. The doctors and nurses at Boston Medical Center credit Cronin, in large part, with saving Padilla’s life. Not only was Padilla saved by the urgent action of these residents, a GoFundMe page that her family created managed to raise over 50 thousand dollars. [3]

According to NBC Boston, Padilla is expected to make a full recovery. After being discharged from Boston Medical Center on Oct. 18, Padilla will go to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, where she will undergo rehab over the next several weeks. [4]

In an interview with NBC Boston, Cronin had this to say about her experience: “I prayed and I hoped and I wanted an update on her so badly. And it’s just amazing. Really amazing. CPR works. It really does.” [4]

Tracey Dechert, the Trauma Chief at Boston Medical Center, said in an interview with NBC Boston that Padilla spent two to three weeks on the edge of life: “You could not be sicker than she was. I mean, that’s as sick as you can get. The fact that that nurse was next to her is amazing, because she would have died.” [4]

Cronin and the other Savin Hill residents played an integral part in keeping Padilla alive. The National Weather Service advises that when tending to a lightning strike victim, be aware of the continued threat of lightning, and move all parties, including the victim, to a safe location as soon as possible. [5]

The reason that Padilla was struck by lightning also had to do with the location. It is a misconception that only structures with metal will attract lightning, as explained by the National Weather Service. Objects that are tall and isolated, such as trees or mountains, can also be struck. In this case, in an open area like the beach, a human is the tallest object, resulting in lightning striking that person. [5]

The best thing to do during a storm is to stay indoors and away from anything that conducts electricity, such as electrical appliances, wires, TV cables or computers. If that’s not an option, and you find yourself outside during a storm, run to the nearest shelter, like a building or non-convertible car. While the odds may be low, it’s never impossible to be struck by lightning. [5]

[1] https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning-odds

[2] https://www.wcvb.com/article/savin-hill-malibu-beach-boston-woman-struck-by-lightning/

[3] https://www.gofundme.com/f/thalita-teixeira-padilla-miracle/share?utm_medium=referral

[4] https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/amazing-boston-woman-struck-by-lightning-last-

[5] https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning-myths

About the Contributor
Colin Tsuboi, Photographer