As storms rolled in last week, a local family’s home was struck by lightning in northern Medina County. It happened this past Monday, June 17 around 1:30 in the morning.
“My husband and I were dead asleep, and it woke both of us up,” said Amy Tschirhart. “We felt the house shake and a really loud bang. Then all of our smoke detectors started going off. We have four children and two of them woke up crying. The kids won’t even go back to sleep now. They keep saying ‘What if lightning strikes us?'”
“After it hit, we looked outside and noticed that the street lights and other homes around us still had electricity, so we knew something was definitely off. There is a spot on our roof that we think may have possibly been where the lightning first hit, but we are not sure. All we know is that it killed a lot of things inside our house.”
“The lightning strike killed our washer, GFI connections throughout the house had to be replaced, one of our breakers, our smoke detectors, the kitchen and garage electrical, our garage door opener/motor $400, sprinkler system motor–who knows how much that will cost…Even our robot vacuum cleaner Roomba isn’t working. We are hoping it just killed the charger and that we can just replace that part, but not sure yet. We have four young kids, I don’t know what I’m going to do without our Roomba!”
“We are so grateful to a family friend and electrician, Kurt Oefinger, who was able to help us work through and understand all of the electrical issues and damage,” Amy said. “We do have homeowner’s insurance, but all of the things that need to be replaced and or repaired fall under the deductible.”
“Our neighbor lost 3 TVs and his garage door motor as wel, but no one else around us was affected,” Amy adds.
The Tschirharts were already going through a tough time medically and financially when they were hit again. Amy has been hospitalized over 20 times in the past couple years due to liver problems that arose after complications with a gallbladder surgery many years ago. Their 5-year-old daughter, Brinley, has also been hospitalized four times in the past two years, as she suffers from Autoimmune disease. Paying those medical bills and then in-home childcare on top of that when mom is hospitalized has really taken a toll on the family.
“We were just about to get back on our feet financially when our home got struck by lightning. God only gives you as much as you can handle,” Amy said bravely, with a tear and a smile, “So we joke that God must think we are very, very special.”
Amy is a nurse and worked at Methodist Children’s Hospital until March of this year when she was hospitalized for over 2 months, so she has been out of work for some time. Husband Jason is a paramedic for Community EMS, and also for AirLife. Both in the medical field, Amy and Jason actually met on an ambulance while she was in training. They will celebrate 10 years of marriage this year with their beautiful family, counting their blessings despite the hardships they are enduring.
If you think it couldn’t ever happen to you–think again. The Tschirharts hope their story will remind everyone to be a little more careful. Lightning kills an average of 47 people in the United States each year, and hundreds more are severely injured.
According to weather.gov, when lightning strikes a tree or other object, much of the energy travels outward from the strike in and along the ground surface. This is known as the ground current. Anyone outside near a lightning strike is potentially a victim of ground current. In addition, ground current can travels in garage floors with conductive materials. Because the ground current affects a much larger area than the other causes of lightning casualties, the ground current causes the most lightning deaths and injuries. Ground current also kills many farm animals.
When we first contacted the Tschirhart family upon learning that their home was struck by lightning, we didn’t know how much more we would learn about this family. Lightning strikes to homes, and families being impacted by them are something you hear about but seldom see. The Tschirhart’s have not asked for help, but there is no doubt that Amy and Jason have touched the lives of many others in his profession as a paramedic and her profession as a nurse.
“We are really grateful that everyone is okay, and know it could have been much worse,” Amy adds. “Even though things are tight, we are still able to provide for our family and we thank everyone for their prayers, love, and just being there for us.”
“We’re honored to know we can raise awareness to this being something that can truly happen to anyone, and the impact it can cause. After this experience, we’d encourage other families to look into getting surge protectors for your home. We were just living day to day, going through struggles like any other family, and that is something we wished we had been more aware of.”