MARSHFIELD, Mo. -- One of the the deadliest parts of the severe weather that you probably don't spend much time thinking about is lightning. In 2018, Missouri and Arkansas both had two lightning deaths, which ties them for third place in most lightning deaths across the country.
Cropped File Photo: Jim Pennucci / CC BY 2.0
Of course, there are also lightning strike survivor stories. One of those stories comes from a family farm in Marshfield.
"It was sunny, about like this," farmer Doren Keeler recalled about a day he'll never forget, "A few clouds started to roll in."
Thirty-five years ago on the family dairy farm, Doren and his brother-in-law, Fred Lampe, had just finished loading the final bales of hay for the day. Fred drove up to the barn across the creek.
Doren doesn't remember much about the moment it happened, but he remembers his final job was to shut the wire gate.
"I grabbed it and went over there and and the lights went off," Keeler said. "And then the next thing was, I was kind of waking up. My ear hurt, my ears are ringing, I do remember that part."
His brother in law was up at the barn but heard the incredibly loud lightning strike and went back down to where he last saw Doren.
"I could see that he was lying down face up. The gate was kind of across him and it just didn't look good," Lampe said. "I got out and went over to him I can tell he wasn't breathing so it just took mouth-to-mouth, just one breath really and he just pluuuuh" as Lampe described Doren taking a big breath on his own.
Lampe went on, "He just kind of laid there and that's when I asked him 'you all right?' and that's when he told me, 'Well my feet's hot.' And that's when I looked down and steam was just rolling off his feet, off his boots."
Other than steaming boots, ringing ears, a cloudy mind and no strength, Doren said he felt okay. He slept on the way to the hospital in Springfield. He walked into the hospital on his own power and his dad told the nurses that Doren had been struck by lightning. They sprang into action and wheeled him to one room, then another before suddenly slowing down.
"Finally this nurse come in and said 'We really don't know what we're doing because we never had anybody survive a lightning strike before.' And I'm like 'Well that makes me feel real good. How long am I gonna last?'" Doren laughed as he recounted his interaction with nurses.
His longest lingering effect was a partially deaf left ear.
"It lasted for, I don't know, several years and one morning I was feeding bottle calves in an old barn and one of them bawled real loud and that ear just opened right up. I guess the Lord was saying 'Well you've been deaf in that ear long enough, maybe I'll listen out of it now," Doren joked.
Doren has a clear sense of humor about his brush with nature's fury, but when he gets serious, he thinks about what happened, and why.
"I thought, you know, I've been here another 35 years and I'm going to be accountable for every one of them years, you know?" Doren said. "Whenever God came to Job, he came in the form of a tornado, whirlwind, they called it, and I think sometimes God just has to say, 'Hey, remember who I am and remember who you are'."
Who Doren is, is a man blessed to share his story about his encounter with a natural phenomenon most people don't survive.
"I'm accountable and I'm thankful for every moment He's given me."