Vero fisherman survives 'big ball of fire'

By Allison Bybee

VERO BEACH, FL (WFLX) - It happens to about 400 people a year and about one-fourth usually die. But a Vero Beach man beat the odds living to tell his lightning strike story.

He has a burnt leg, but certainly not a burnt ego. Because, for Albert McKenzie, it was just another day of fishing. "I got it almost in, and the next thing I heard 'POW' a big ball of fire."

That ball of fire is all he saw coming off his fishing pole. The lightning hit him so hard, it knocked him on the ground. "My leg was burning. That's about it; I saw everything. I didn't go unconscious or anything."

McKenzie was fishing on the beach in Indian River Shores Monday - something he does about once a week. After he was hit, a stranger rushed to help.

McKenzie then went to Indian River Medical Center where no one knew his outcome - not even his wife of 12 years. "She freaked out; she freaked out. She come down, 'You alright, you alright?'"

The strike only got his thigh and exited through the bottom of his foot. He knows it could have been much worse and is thankful to be here to tell his story and warn others about lightning dangers. "You better go, don't hang around, cause it's dangerous."

McKenzie is expected to make a full recovery and should be released from the hospital on Wednesday. He says, now, he won't fish during a storm.