Quins player survives lightning strike on his own doorstep

editorial image

A HAWICK teenager is recovering after being struck by lightning during Tuesday night’s violent storm.

Andrew Birney says he is still in shock after being hit by a bolt as he stood on the doorstep of his family’s Sunnyhill home - and thinks that a rubber doormat probably saved his life.

Just like most Teries on Tuesday, Andrew had been keeping a close eye on the night sky as it was lit up repeatedly by lightning forks and flashes, and thunder cracked above the town for almost an hour.

But when the 19-year old stepped outside for a cigarette and to take video footage, he certainly got more than he bargained for.

Andrew, a labourer for local painting firm D.A Oliver, told the Hawick News: “I’d been watching the lightning from the window, but thought I’d go outside for a smoke and to get a better view. I was just at the front door and had my iPod in my hand, when there was a big flash and really loud thunder, and it felt like something happened to the right hand side of my body, it went all tense.”

The Hawick Harlequins player says he can’t clearly remember everything that happened next, but recalls ending up on the floor back inside the house.

Mum Lesley went on: “We heard an almighty crack and thought something had hit the house, but then Andrew come staggering in. He fell on the floor and his right hand and foot were curled, his speech was slurred, and one pupil was dilated.”

The Birneys phoned the NHS 24 helpline, who immediately sent for an ambulance. Paramedics took Andrew to the Borders Genreal Hospital, where he underwent tests and observation overnight. But apart from a smashed ipod, which it is thought attracted the lightning, Andrew has suffered no lasting effects from being struck by the bolt - which can typically contain one billion volts.

He added: “Doctors think standing on the doormat saved me.”

And although joking that his granny always said smoking would kill him, admitted: “I can’t believe it happened, but it’s sinking in now that I’m lucky to be alive.”