'I was struck by lightning': 2 women speak about being struck indoors



Posted on July 16, 2013 at 6:41 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 16 at 10:25 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

HOUMA, La. -- There's an old adage that lightning never strikes twice in the same place.

But don't tell that to the people of Houma. They'll say you're wrong.

Monday's rain clouds were dark above Houma. A young mother and two little daughters took refuge in the Rouses grocery store on Grand Caillou Road. While checking out, Lakeisha Brooks, 33, moved her cart with her 2-year-old sitting in it.

Then the unthinkable happened.

"Right when I pushed her out of the way, (the lightning) went straight through me. It went, like, from my head down to the back of my spine to my left thigh and on my foot," said Lakeisha Brooks, who was back at Chabert Hospital for a follow-up visit.

There were blisters on her thigh, the bottom of her foot and the tile floor. She felt stinging and burning.

"When I stepped to the side, it hit again and it knocked my shoe off under the register," remembers Brooks. "The tile exploded under my right foot. With me seeing that, I realized what just happened. I was struck by lightning."

Another mother, Mona Billiot, had the same thing happen a couple of weeks ago nearby.

"I was in the middle of cooking a jambalaya, and all of a sudden the wind and the rain started coming down really bad, almost as severe like a depression kind of like, and I was just stirring my pot and all of a sudden I look up by the window and I see a big flash of lightning come through," said Billiot.

Her former husband was down the street cutting the grass and saw it happen.

"I seen the lightning come straight this way into that back window and I started running through the rain to try to get to see if she was alright, because I know how she feels about bad weather. She hates bad weather," said Gerard Pitre.

Houma police and fire departments investigated at the grocery.

"I've been with the police department for 28 years. I've never responded to a victim struck by lightning. I've heard of it on the outside, people walking outside, but I've never heard of anyone being struck by lightning while grocery shopping. This is the first," said Chief Todd Duplantis of the Houma Police Department.

Both women went to the hospital for tests and exams. Billiot felt hot, dazed and confused. Her heart rate felt slower than normal.

Doctors did a CAT scan and told her the plastic handle on that spoon, now marked where her nails melted inward, may have saved her life.

Lakeisha credits another source.

"God gets all the credit for this, for me being alive today," said Brooks.

Both women are doing well but still being checked out for some nerve pain.

Houma police believe the lightning came through the sprinkler system in Rouses and hit Brooks because she was standing on a metal floor area.

Rouses would not talk to us on camera or let us in to see the damage. Managers did not want to take a picture of the damaged floor and email it to Eyewitness News. Instead, this statement was issued via email:

"We care very deeply about the safety and well-being of our customers, and have policies and procedures in place that enabled us to react to even the most unusual situation. Ms. Brook’s physical condition was the number one priority of our Grand Caillou Road store manager and team members. Our security team immediately secured the area where lightning struck and contacted the Houma Fire Department, which is currently investigating."

Eyewitness News thanks The Houma Courier for assistance on this story.