BLANCHARD, Mich. – No one quite understands the term "striking it lucky" better than 16-year-old BreAnna Helsel. The Michigan teen survived being struck by lightning and went on to win $20 in the lottery the next day.
Helsel was at her home in Blanchard, about 50 miles northeast of Grand Rapids, watching thunderstorms roll by on June 6 when she noticed rain entering an open kitchen window.
"She went to close the window and the lightning came through and hit her," her mother, Linda Johnson, told The Daily News of Greenville. "We think it must have hit the house or something."
Helsel struggled to describe the sensation she felt as the electricity passed through her body.
"It felt like when your foot falls asleep," she said.
Helsel said she saw the electricity shoot out of her fingers and into the overhead lights, immediately knocking out the house's power.
At first, the teenager didn't want to be checked out at a hospital, but when she started complaining about a tingling sensation in her arm, she and her mother drove through the rain to get to Spectrum Health Kelsey Hospital in Lakeview.
Helsel was checked out and the only signs of the lightning strike were some darkened fingertips on her right hand and a shaking arm from damaged muscles that will require some therapy. A full recovery is expected.
"Everyone said I'm really lucky," she said.
Hospital employees suggested that Helsel was on such a lucky streak, she should immediately play the lottery. She's too young, so her mother went out the next day and bought a Michigan lottery ticket for her.
"And we won $20," Johnson said, laughing. "What a way to start the summer."