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Morgan Family Pioneer Heritage
Lightning Stories

Stories written by family members who have been struck by lightning and lived to tell about it


This history was written by Etsel Radford:

Son of George and Martha Spracher Radford

Grandson of Daniel H and Everal Hannah Morgan Radford

(Editors Note: This is the lightning part of Etsel Radford's life history. His entire life history can be found by clicking the link below).

Etsel Henry Radford

The lightning story below is only a small part of Etsel Radford's much longer and very interesting life history. In addition, there is a very nice picture of Etsel on his page. Click the link above to see the picture and to read the life history he wrote himself.

........About a year after this I suffered through a bad heart condition. I was in the hospital for this for 10 days in 1972. I went to Salt Lake for a check up and had to have open heart surgery! The day after I got home from the hospital on the 17th of August I was able to talk my wife and son into taking me up the river fishing.

I was on the river about a year later with Russ Price and Darwin Bloxham. We were floating from Palisades Dam to Swan Valley bridge. About 2 miles upstream from the bridge it began to rain and wind blew like mad. We decided to stop and let the storm blow over. As we landed the boat, Russ tied the boat to a tree while my brother Wayne held the boat from going downstream. Darwin and I headed for the trees. Then the earth seemed to explode. The rest I will have to tell as it was told to me because I came to in the hospital. I couldn't move my legs from the hips down. For the second time in my life I spent 9 days in the hospital. I tried to piece together what had happened. We were hit by a bolt of lightning. Russ, being a little farther away was hurt the least. He said he was knocked down, got up, shook himself and was okay. Wayne got up 4 times. Russ had to grab him to keep him form falling in the river. Darwin and I were lying on our backs. They were certain we were both dead

But then Darwin started to move. They checked my pulse and knew that my heart had stopped. Darwin said the smoke was rolling out of my boots. He knelt down, put my head in his lap and asked our Heavenly Father for help. An answer came immediately as he was told to hit me in the chest. He hit me 3 times with no results. He was told to lock both hands together and hit me as hard as he cold with both hands at once. This started my heart beating again. Then he gave me artificial respiration for about an hour. I still had a long way to go: the lightning had hit at one twenty five and it was three before they dared to move me.

When they looked at the boat it was nearly full of water. The lightning had blown a hole about 7 inched long and four inches wide through the side of the boat. The water was running in as fast as they could dip it out. Because we were on an island, they dragged me over to the boat, plugged the hole with a coat and bailed the water out with our dinner pail. Russ and Darwin took care of me while Wayne brought the boat down the river. He said he couldn't remember anything about the trip to the bridge. They dragged me over to the pickup where two of them loaded the boat and Russ took care of me. Then they loaded me in the truck and headed for the hospital once again.

As they were putting me in the wheelchair I wanted to know what had happened. Dr. Kranz was called because he was my doctor. He couldn't believe what had happened. My pants were in ribbons, and my boots were blown to pieces. It seems that the lightning had hit the top of my head because it blew the little metal button out of the top of my baseball-type hat, burned my hair, left a streak down my back about 2 inches wide with a hit and miss every 2 inches and burned around my waist on the right side to my belt buckle. Then it went down the inside of my legs and out the bottom of my feet. These burns all peeled off as they healed. I was told 28 years before that my garments would be a shield and a protection for my body.

As I lay in the hospital my thoughts went back to the girl of my dreams of so long ago. She was at my bedside every day. What a blessing it has been to be raised in this beautiful valley with mountains all around. I have been on almost all of them by horse, car, ski-doo, or on foot. I have covered almost all lakes in Idaho. I have visited Calgary, Canada, ferried across big lakes with sixty campers and pickups on board in one load. I have fished the Salmon, Locksaw and Selway rivers. I have gone down the River of No Return, and fished on the ocean off Oregon, Washington and California. While in California we visited the Redwood Forest, Marine Land, Knott's Berry Farm, Disneyland and many others. I had the opportunity of seeing the Manti, Utah Pageant which is very inspiring.

When I returned home I appreciated more being able to live in the heart of the world, the most beautiful place in the world. Within five minutes, I can have my family in our beautiful church house. It is only 20 minutes to our stake center and with 35 minutes we can enter the House of our Father in Heaven; the Idaho Falls Temple.

This History was written by Zelda Finn Brower



Zelda Finn Brower

Daughter of Wilford and Sarah Finn of Clark, Idaho

Wife of Merrill Brower

It was the summer of 1958, July 27th to be exact. Merrill and I had gathered up the clean milk buckets and ten gallon can, put them in the car and headed up to milk the cows. Our son Phil and Joy his wife were living in our basement apartment and Phil was working for us. Arnie was just eleven days old and rather than leave him home alone, Phil brought them along and went with us to milk the cows. Karen, LaMar, Leyan, Dennis, and baby Tony went up in Judkins to get a load of hay. I can't remember who they went with.

We arrived at the Kepperman place barn, left Joy and the baby in the car, and started to try to find the cows in the willows. Little Bitch creek wound it's way around the place with a few hundred yards of willows on each side of it. We never knew where in those willows we would find the cows. Sometimes we would catch a glimpse of a cow through the willows and knew the rest would be close. If the cows weren't too far away from us, we could call "Come Bossy" and they would come within sight and then we could go and drive them in. They would always shade up in the willows in the afternoon near the cool of the winding creek and where the flies wouldn't bother them so much. Sometimes they would be across the creek and we would have to wade the creek or cross on a log to bring them in. It was no small challenge to walk bent over or crawl and duck the willows trying to chase them out. If the flies were bad sometimes they didn't want to come out.

It runs in my mind that this day we didn't have too much trouble bringing them in but we were hurrying because as we arrived we noticed a very black cloud in the Southwest that looked like a very bad electrical storm was brewing. We hurried the cows in hoping to get them inside and all of us under cover before the storm broke.

There were two rows of stanchens down the center of the large old barn with an alley in between. We would drive half the cows in each side. They knew which side they belonged in and would run in and put their heads in the stanchens and wait to be fastened in. We finally got them in the two sides and all fastened in, then we got our clean can and strainer in place. We each took a bucket and I went to the west side and Phil and Merrill to the east side and started to milk.

We had each finished one cow, poured our milk in, and had gone back to start milking our second cow. About this time the most vicious storm we had ever witnessed hit. It brought almost hurricane force winds with thunder and lightning but we felt safe in the barn.

I heard an ear splitting bang and looked up at a window near by and saw a ball of fire come down to the ground not 20 or 30 feet from the barn. I jumped up and said, "Better get out of here, the next one will get us." I had always heard that cows or horses drew lightning so I wanted to get away from the cows. I had about a pint of milk in the bucket but instead of throwing it and running, I attempted to pour it in the can. As I was pouring the tin bucket of milk in the tin can, a bolt of lightning came through a crack in the barn wall, being drawn by the tin bucket in my hand. I took the full bolt except for the protection of the barn wall. I didn't hear the crash of the lightning, I only saw the flash. Somehow I knew, however, that it had hit me and I knew I was dying and wondered what was going to happen to my baby and other children. I felt myself die and the sensation was one of falling into a black hole and it seemed that it took me a long time to fall. I was literally falling, and falling and falling for a long time. I never did come out into the light, however, the next thing that came to my mind was that I was in heaven. I thought it must be that in Heaven someone could breath for you as I could feel air going into my lungs and then coming out again. I would try to breath and nothing would happen. The thought crossed my mind that I never knew someone could breath for you. I heard Merrill say "I think I saw her gasp." He had been knocked down by the concussion and was stunned for a minute and then got up to see where everyone was. He came over into the side where I was but the smoke and dust were so thick that he couldn't see me for a while. He finally spotted me on the floor with my head under a cow's feet. The cow was also stunned so was standing very still. He pulled me out away from the cow and wondered whether to attempt to go for help or do something else.

Something told him to give me artificial respiration. He had never done it in his life but since I had no pulse and was not breathing, he knew something had to be done quickly. He started to give it the old way by pushing up and down on the chest. He said that it seemed that hands were guiding his hands to do it right. After giving it for at least a half hour and thinking it was useless and thinking he should give up, he saw me gasp.

I was completely paralyzed but the paralysis was starting to leave from my head down. When it got past my lungs, I started to breath on my own and my heart started doing flip flops, not beating just flopping. At this point they loaded me in the car and I could hear Joy screaming and crying to the Lord for help. We went very fast to the hospital with Merrill and Phil asking me often how I was doing. I would say fine when all the time I knew my heart would give up the struggle any minute. We stopped long enough at the house to tell the kids to call the hospital and tell them a lightning victim was coming in.

When we arrived at the hospital Ada Jones was standing in emergency with a stretcher and portable oxygen. They started to roll me toward a room and I said, "Stop, don't put me in that clean bed this dirty, wash me up first." I was a sight. The explosion had blown dirt, dried manure, and whatever else was in the barn all over me. My shoes were blown from my feet and all we could find of them were bits and pieces. My clothes were in shreds like you had taken a pair of scissors and cut them in shreds. Because I objected so strenuously Ada took a pan of water and washed me up a little before she put me in the bed.

At this time the Dr. Arrived and said "I can't give you anything because your heart is acting so badly but I have to scrub your burns." On my shoulder to my knee on half of my body I was a solid water blister. I hadn't realized I was burned until he said it because I was still so numb and also lightning burns are not painful because you burn from the inside out. The Dr. said, "If I don't scrub your burns you will get an infection like you have never seen before." Merrill held tight to me and I screamed some but he scrubbed my burns. With Merrill still hanging to my hand and feeling my pulse we settled down to wait and see if my heart was going to keep flopping or give up the ghost.

After a sleepless night with my heart settled down to a regular beat the worst part of the episode hit. If I had known what I was in for I might have been sorry I made it. Every muscle in my whole body had been injured in the concussion and when they started to come out of the paralysis they went into spasms. The pain was excruciating especially in my arms, legs, back, and lower abdomen. I was given muscle relaxers and strong pain killers every four hours which would just take the worst edge from the pain. After a day or two they got me out of bed and made me try to walk to see if I could or if I was going to be a hopeless cripple because my legs were still completely numb. I was able to make my legs move but couldn't put any weight on the one at first as it was hurt so badly.

In six days I was sent home with a pair of crutches, which I didn't use but very little. On the seventh day I begged to be taken to the church where my first grandchild, Arnie, was to be blessed. Everyone said I couldn't go but I said "No way am I going to miss the blessing of my first grandchild." I stood up in testimony meeting and thanked the Lord for life itself and also a second chance.

From the first minute that I realized I was still alive and had been given a second chance I knew that the Lord had preserved my life for a reason known only to Him. I knew that whatever the reason was I had been granted an extension of my life and must make the most of every precious moment of it. I promised myself and the Lord that I would serve Him to the best of my ability all the rest of my life.

When I think about how close I came to meeting my maker that day, I think how totally unprepared I was. I'm afraid that up to that time I had been a very slothful servant but I hope I have made some progress since. I would have missed the closeness I've had with my 25 (so far) grandchildren. And the opportunity of watching my children grow to be responsible adults and also the extra years I have enjoyed with my precious husband. For all this I am eternally grateful.

Editors note: This account was written by Zelda Finn Brower, sister to Mary Finn Morgan, wife of Kenneth Morgan. Zelda and her husband Merrill Brower lived and farmed all their married life in the little community of Felt, Idaho, which is near Tetonia. Zelda was born in 1918, Married Merrill in 1937, died in 2000 and was 40 years old when the lightning incident happened. [James Morgan]