Lightning Strike Kills Nine Cows on Farm in Putnam County

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PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The chance of being struck by lightning is one in 300,000 during a lifetime, but for a farmer in Putnam County, those odds weren’t in his favor when it came to his cattle.

If you look beyond the barbed wire fence of Toney Craigo’s farm, you'll see devastation. Craigo saw it when he went to check on his cattle after Tuesday night's storm.

"Then we got right there. I said, ‘Oh my goodness, Bill, there's a whole bunch of them under that tree, dead,’ ” Craigo said.

The tree had been struck by lightning. Ten cows were underneath it, and only one survived.

“It seemed unreal, you know, that many at one time,” Craigo said. “Five mommies and four babies.”

He had Dr. Thomas McMahon from the Pocatalico Animal Hospital check it out. Even he is baffled.

“I've never seen anything quite like this,” McMahon said.

McMahon says there's no question what caused their deaths.

“You can see where the lightning came down the tree here. What it does is it radiates out through the roots of the tree and just electrifies the whole ground,” McMahon said. “All of the cattle were probably killed instantaneously right where they were standing under this tree.”

As for Craigo, it hurts his heart and his wallet.

“You work at it. You don't make that much farming anyhow. When you lose that many, it's all gone,” Craigo said. “Just an act of nature. Nothing you can do about it except accept it and keep going.”

He’s accepting it this time, but hopes the old saying "lightning never strikes the same place twice" applies to his entire farm.

As unusual as it seems, this has actually happened in our region before

According to the National Weather Service, lightning struck a tree in Raleigh County, West Virginia, in July 2012. In that case, 22 cows were killed.

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