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A Unusual Lightning Death in an Indoor Setting: A Case Report

Ventura, Francesco MD, PhD; Barranco, Rosario MD; Bonsignore, Alessandro MD, PhD; De Stefano, Francesco MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2017 - Volume 38 - Issue 1 - p 1–4
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000273
Case Reports

Death due to lightning strikes is infrequent, above all indoors. Some cases may take on a medical legal interest due to the unusual and uncommon circumstances in which they occur. The authors report an extremely rare case of electrocution occurred inside a house in a rural area. A 53-year-old man was reached by an electrical discharge originating from lightning while he was doing renovation work on a cottage. In this case, the correct interpretation of the autopsy and histological aspects and the attentive analysis of the circumstantial and environmental data led to the correct diagnosis of death and to the reconstruction of the dynamics with which it occurred. It was in fact possible to reconstruct that during a violent thunderstorm, lightning, discharging from the bottom upward formed an electric arc. The victim, who was close to metal objects (sawhorses), was struck on the left foot and the current exited from the right hand passing through the heart causing immediate death.

From the Department of Legal and Forensic Medicine, University of Genova, Via de' Toni 12, 16132 Genova, Italy.

Manuscript received February 10, 2016; accepted September 2, 2016.

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Francesco Ventura, MD, PhD, Department of Legal and Forensic Medicine, University of Genova, Via A. de Toni 12, 16132 Genova, Italy. E-mail:

© 2017 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.