My Suburban Life

‘Inability to react’: Elmhurst father, daughter recount surviving lightning strike at Florida ballgame

John Moberg and his daughter, Ashley, are die-hard New York Yankees fans.

The Elmhurst residents have traveled around the nation watching their beloved team play, and they attended spring training games last week in Tampa, Florida.

But Saturday’s game was called in the sixth inning because of rain. They took shelter in a souvenir shop, then walked through the downpour as John Moberg hit keyfob buttons to find their car.

Then boom, flash: They were thrown by a bolt of lightning.

“It happened so fast. (But) it seemed like eons,” John, 74, said Tuesday.

Miraculously, the duo survived and are back home -- albeit with bruises, burns and, for John, a broken cheekbone.

“I feel like I played a game of football,” he said of lingering soreness.

The strike

The two were a few feet apart, Ashley, 19, said. The lightning didn’t strike them directly. She was closest to the strike, which happened while she was crouched, adjusting one of her shoes.

The charge knocked her out of her sneakers. It sent her dad flying, and he ended up facedown in the mud. He could not move. Ashley thought he was dead.

“The most frightening was the inability to react,” John said. “That was very, very scary.”

Ashley crawled to him and got the attention of a passerby, who had seen the lightning flash but didn’t know people had been struck. That man called 911 and stayed by them until they were taken to a hospital.

Among Ashley’s injuries is a burn around her neck. The electricity heated a metal necklace, melting it. She also has a big bruise and scrapes on one of her hips from being thrown against a tree.

Ashley called the smell of the electrical burns “awful.” It was just like the time her father got shocked trying to rewire a light in a bathroom, she said.

Both consider themselves lucky. They praised the support they have received, even from strangers in Tampa.

“Something that was truly scary turned out to be positive in the end,” John said.

The takeaways

Ashley posted a TikTok video about the experience, including that she didn’t get an autograph at the game from player Aaron Judge.

The Yankees are taking care of that, promising her an autographed baseball. They also will give the Mobergs tickets to a game this summer when the Yankees play in Chicago.

Ashley’s a third-generation Yankees fan. “I was 5 before I realized I didn’t live in New York,” John said of his father’s love of the Yankees.

They plan to attend spring training next year.

“Paramedics said the rubber soles probably saved us,” Ashley said of her sneakers and her dad’s deck shoes.

And, “don’t listen to your dad when he says he knows where the car is,” she quipped.