Family of Midland lightning victim speak and a warning for others

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MIDLAND -- A Midland man is dead after being struck by lightning during Monday’s thunderstorm.

The family of the man who died has a message for all: it can happen to anyone.

Just one day after the tragedy, children were seen playing soccer under the shining sun at Ratliff Park — just across the street from the Ortiz family’s home.

But it was a completely different scene on Monday evening — when their worst nightmare became a reality.

David Ortiz’ daughter, Andrea, recalls her father talking about the thunderstorm moments before he was killed.

“He was like, 'oh, it won't hit here.' Right after he finished saying that, it hit him,” Andrea said.

Those were David’s last words before his life was taken in the blink of an eye.

“It’s really painful. It’s something you can’t describe, you know, it’s unbelievable,” she added.

David was sitting on a cinderblock wall lining his driveway yesterday chatting with family. That’s when they say they heard a loud explosion.

“I was standing right here and then when the lightning came I was over there,” said David’s nephew, Israel, as he signaled how far the shock of the lightning bolt threw him. He added that the strike was so powerful it even knocked him out.

When Israel came to, he smelled something burning and saw his uncle lying unconscious on the ground, and his cell phone on fire.

“I really expected him to be okay,” Andrea said.

Meteorologist Matt Salerno with the National Weather Service of Midland says David was most likely struck because of where he was sitting.

“It was probably the large tree that he was next to. We just tell people to try to stay indoors, be under cover as best you can,” Salerno said.

If you ever find yourself in a wide open field during an electrical storm, the best thing you can do is get into a car. That’s because if lightning strikes, the vehicle’s metal cage will protect you by taking the hit.

Salerno also adds that as tempted as you may be to go outside and watch the storm, you really should stay inside. Lightning can travel up to 50 miles from the storm and strike anywhere. Last night’s storm averaged 150 strikes every five minutes, according to Salerno and the NWS.

“Around six o'clock, [Monday evening] lightning was already striking part of the East side of Midland and Central Midland before the storm even reached there. It might not have even been raining at that point and there's still lightning,” Salerno said.

He also adds that when there’s more precipitation in a storm, there’s a higher chance of lightning strikes since water conducts electricity.

As for the Ortiz family, a GoFundMe account has been set up to help with funeral expenses for David.