Granby lightning victim tells his story and the aftermath
SKY-HI DAILY NEWS
Cal Reeves said someone was looking down on him the day he was struck by lightning.
Now, he and his wife, Deb, want to help others who experience the same misfortune.
Cal Reeves, 49, was playing golf with friends at the Grand Elk Golf Course in Granby July 3, 2006. He was on the fifth hole with three friends when a storm approached them.
“It was sprinkling,” he said, “and then there were a couple storms that came together at the same time. The lightning came out of those.”
“(Lightning) knocked me unconscious,” he said. “It blew my shoes off.”
After his wife heard an explosion, she ran about 50 yards to discover her husband face down in a ditch.
“His body was purple,” she said. “His eyes were dazed. When you’re hit, your eyes just get this very dead blank stare.”
Blood also was coming out of his nose, ears and mouth and he had burns all over his body. Both of his eardrums ruptured, she said.
She started doing CPR compressions on him, even though he looked dead, and had their friends dial 9-1-1. Another golfer felt his pulse, and they kept him covered until an ambulance arrived.
Cal Reeves was airlifted to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, and did not leave for three to four days. Afterwards he said, “I felt like somebody ran me over with a truck.” He had second-degree burns across his head, face, chest, hips and feet.
“I remember nothing,” he said, adding that he only recalls someone asking him questions in the helicopter. “I don’t remember anything after that.”
It took him about a year to get his life back in order. He is able to do many of the things he could do before along with working out, but has nerve damage to his feet and gets fatigued “pretty easy.”
“I’m as good as it’s going to get,” he said. “The specialists don’t know much about lightning. I took a pretty good shot. I have some burn marks.”
He said he used to work 14-16 hours days, and now he can only work eight hours at most. His concentration is not what it used to be, either.
He can’t be in an enclosed space or he’ll get claustrophobic. His ears ring all the time and are sensitive to sound. He also has constant pain in his foot, Deb Reeves added.
Days before he was struck by lightning, Cal Reeves said a neighbor, who’s a firefighter, was over their house. And “for some odd reason” they started talking about chest compressions and the correct way to give them.
“(Deb’s) the one that saved my life,” he said. “That’s pretty ironic. Somebody was looking over us.”
The couple is making people aware of the dangers of lightning, and the importance of seeking cover once a storm hits.
“We are going to get the word out,” Cal Reeves said.
“It’s our goal to get into the schools and do assemblies,” Deb Reeves said. “If you can hear the thunder you can be hit by lightning. You should seek significant shelter.”
Each time they learn of someone who’s been struck by lighting, Deb Reeves contacts them to try to help. “Some people are receptive to my calls, others aren’t,” she said.
In the past two years, about $3,000 has been raised at the High Country Golf Tournament at Pole Creek to benefit the Rocky Mountain Lightning Awareness Foundation. This started after Reeves was hit by lightning.
Deb and Cal spend most of their summer in their house in Legacy Park Ranch near Granby. Once their daughter finishes high school they plan to move to Grand County permanently. “We have a lot of friends out there, so we like to spend a lot of time up there,” Cal Reeves said.
They live in Aurora and have two daughters, Katie and Kourtney. They are the owners of Reeves Specialty Services Inc, which supplies commercial heating and air conditioning.
” Katie Looby can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19601 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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