FLASH GORDON! Mackay man learns lightning can strike twice
THERE was no wind and no rain as campers at Devereux Creek watched a light show roll across the sky on Christmas night.
Within half an hour, though, Gordon Hervey was wondering if he had super powers.
The Mackay man, who was nicknamed Flash as a youngster, was "flung" to the ground after a bolt of lightning struck a tree four metres from where they were camping at Mackay Waterski Park.
Paramedics were called to assess Mr Hervey and nine other campers who felt the blow. One man had a small wound on his toe where the electricity exited his body.
Mr Hervey said the party was not hit directly but the electricity arced through the tree to the soaked ground.
"You feel it go up your body and back out, especially if your feet are in water," he said.
"It's a weird feeling, like pins and needles and then you're left tingling for a while after it, like a very severe case of your foot falling asleep.
"My friends texted me asking if I had superpowers yet, with a picture of the Flash.
"That was funny because he was my favourite superhero as a kid and one of my nicknames from school."
The 31 year old was first struck during a storm in October three years ago before a beach volleyball game at the Citibeach club in South Mackay.
Much like Wednesday night, the rain swept in faster than expected and the players were trying to turn off the digital scoreboards and lights.
"As I was walking out to the 20-plus metre light pole to switch it off, the lightning hit the light pole and came through the ground," Mr Hervey said.
"Me having no shoes on, the electricity just came straight through the water, like it did (Wednesday), and zapped about 20 of us there."
Mr Hervey described how quickly the Christmas lightning show turned into a storm at the camp site on Newmans Rd.
"It just went all guns blazing, so much wind, so much rain," Mr Hervey said.
"Gazebos were being lifted off the ground, our awning started to go and we were all just trying to hold down whatever we could."
When the storm died down, campers came out to start repairing the damage and salvaging what they could in case the storm worsened.
Mr Hervey, an administration officer at Mackay Courthouse, and four of the people he was camping with tried to patch up the nearly collapsed gazebo over his best friend Steele Pearce's tent.
"We were all standing in a nice little huddle about 4-5 metres away from this tree," Mr Hervey said, gesturing to the scorched chunk of the tree.
In that group was 76 year old Keith Pearce - Steele's grandfather - Andrew Pearce and Hervey's partner John Alexander.
A few metres away, Kyel Johnston and his friends Dan O'Driscoll and Scott Armstrong felt the jolt from strike.
Mr Johnston was holding onto a metal pole that broke off his shelter when an "amazing, orange glow" hit the tall tree and the sent electricity arcing to him.
Because he had one foot off the ground, the current left via a small exit wound on his toe.
Johnston said he believed the storm had quietened down when the strike landed in front of him.
Mr Hervey said having the rare experience of being hit before equipped him with some experience on how to handle the situation.
"Having my best mate's grandfather there, he was pretty much my priority one," he said.
"Because I have that experience, I knew what to look out for. We got up and bolted, making sure everyone got to cover.
"It's similar to an adrenaline rush, everything kicks into gear and you just want to protect everyone around you."
None of the 10 who were shocked by the bolt at the Mackay Waterski Club needed further attention and eight were spotted still camping the next day with no intention of going home early.