‘One a Million:’ Lightning Kills Athlete Just Before 50K Finishing Line

By Venus Upadhayaya, Epoch Times
October 1, 2019 Updated: October 1, 2019

A 33-year-old athlete and a father of three died after lightning struck him just before he was about to finish a 50K race in Independence, Kansas, on Sept. 28.

Thomas Stanley was participating in the FlatRock 50K trail race at Elk City Lake Park when he died on Saturday afternoon, according to a Facebook post by the organizers of the race.

“Thomas Stanley tragically passed away when he was struck by lightning, just as he was approaching his 50K finish yesterday afternoon,” FlatRock 50K & 25K wrote on Facebook.

“Thomas’s family says that the chances of being killed by a lightning strike are about one in a million, and Thomas was truly a one-in-a-million guy,” they wrote.

Thomas’s wife Ashley Stanley also shared about the tragedy on her Facebook. “It is with deepest regrets and disbelief that I am writing to say that my best friend, father of our babies, and love went to be with Jesus yesterday,” wrote Ashley.

Stock image of athletes. (Free-Photos/Pixabay)

She said she and Thomas knew each other for 15 years and she was looking forward to being together for life.

“Thomas went to run at the FlatRock 50K yesterday and was struck by lightning. My heart hurts and I feel sick to my stomach. I had 15 blessed years of knowing my best friend and I was planning to have 79,” she wrote.

Ashley asked friends and family to keep her family in their prayers and said she misses her husband.

“I want so badly for him to hold me now and to feel his face on mine. He was the most amazing man—and I’m not just saying that. I don’t know how to do this. I know obviously we will do it one day at a time and with God’s help, but this is so much. God of all comfort be our strength!” wrote Ashley.

A fundraiser has been organized for the Stanleys on GoFundMe and the campaign has so far raised over $63,000.

“The last thing Ashley should be thinking about right now is money; let’s bless her and their children as they move forward,” says the fundraiser.

How Dangerous is Lightning?

The National Weather Service (NWS) says that lightning can be a major cause of storm-related deaths in the United States.

“A lightning strike can result in a cardiac arrest (heart-stopping) at the time of the injury, although some victims may appear to have a delayed death a few days later if they are resuscitated but have suffered irreversible brain damage,” explained the NWS.

Stock image of lightning. (Free-Photos/Pixabay)

In the past three decades, from 1989 to 2018, 43 people died in the country every year on average due to lightning. The figure for the last decade is 27, according to NWS.

Around 10 percent of people die after being struck by lightning and the other 90 percent suffer from varying degrees of disabilities.

Follow Venus on Twitter: @venusupadhayaya