By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – A 59-year-old Tenino man was struck by lightning this morning as he was traveling on his motorcycle up Interstate 5 at Chehalis.
A man and his wife who were behind him saw the flash and stopped to help.
“I was behind him in my truck, the lightning came down and lit up his helmet,” Martin Zapalac said.
At first Zapalac wondered if he imagined it, but then saw the motorcyclist lean forward and move to the shoulder.
The couple had the man follow him to the AM/PM off 13th Street, where arriving firefighters and paramedics checked him out.
It happened about 9:20 a.m., just north of the LaBree Road interchange.
Medics checked his vital signs and found he had some burns on the side of his head, although minor, according to the Chehalis Fire Department.
“He seemed to suffer some hearing damage as well,” Fire Capt. Kevin Curfman said.
The man was conscious and talking, and alert enough he got out of the ambulance to try to arrange who could drive his bike to a spot for safe keeping.
He was transported by ambulance to Providence Centralia Hospital.
Zapalac said the man’s hair was burned and the inside of his helmet was messed up, but he didn’t quite seem to understand how seriously he could be hurt.
He took off his helmet and asked, “Why am I parked by the side of the road,” Zapalac said.
“I’ve never seen it strike quite that close,” Zapalac said. “It was a good strike too, cause I felt the concussion in my truck … when the thunder came.”