Man saved by insulated suit after struck by lightning while fishing on beach

A man is lucky to be alive after he was struck by lightning while fishing with his friend

 A general view of Haifa Port on July 24. (photo credit: ILAN ROSENBERG/REUTERS)
A general view of Haifa Port on July 24.
(photo credit: ILAN ROSENBERG/REUTERS)

Just a few days after a 46-year-old farmer in Emek Hefer was killed almost instantly after being struck by lightning while walking his dog, a 41-year-old resident of the Druze village of Daliat al-Carmel was hit by lightning while fishing with a friend in Haifa Bay – and he survived.

Rabia Halabi, a bus driver and father of three, went fishing with his friend and neighbor Nizhar Farhat on Friday afternoon. They did not think the winter weather might endanger them, but Halabi wore a special suit that insulated him from the cold.

Upon arriving at the beach, they positioned themselves a few dozen meters from each other so as not to be harmed by one of the other’s fishing gear and witnessed a spectacular lightning show.

The lightning hit Halabi

Just before Halabi cast with his fishing rod, he was struck by a bolt of lightning. As a result of the impact, he flew through the air and landed several meters away, losing consciousness and suffering from burns on his left hand and right leg.

Farhat, who recalled seeing the lightning strike the rod that Halabi was holding, said the impact was accompanied by a deafening explosion.

 Lightning over Jerusalem (credit: Prof. Daniel Rosenfeld) Lightning over Jerusalem (credit: Prof. Daniel Rosenfeld)

“It was like in the movies. It was unbelievable,” he told the medical team at Rambam Health Care Campus, where his friend was rushed for treatment.

Fortunately for Halabi, Farhat did not waste a minute. He grabbed his unconscious friend, who had been thrown to the ground, carried him into his car and drove straight to Rambam. Upon arrival, Halabi was immediately taken to the trauma room and underwent a series of tests and diagnostics to stabilize his condition. After regaining consciousness, he was moved to an internal medicine ward.

“On very stormy days, it is advisable not to go outside, and especially, as someone who likes to fish, I say – don’t go,” Halabi said.

"On very stormy days, it is advisable not to go outside, and especially, as someone who likes to fish, I say – don’t go"

Halabi

Halabi's current state

Halabi is still in pain from the impact and from the burns he sustained as a result of holding the rod and from the lightning passing through him to the ground.

“I have been going fishing as a hobby for a few months, and I got a suit that apparently protected me from being struck by lightning,” he said. “The suit directed the lightning that struck me straight to the ground.”

Halabi said he did not remember what happened.

“Everything I know was told to me by my friend Nizer, who saved my life,” he said. “I remember waking up in the emergency room and not understanding why I was in pain and why I had burns on my hand and leg.”

The Rambam doctors said in a statement: “It was a miracle. The lightning passed through him with great force. It was fortunate that he was dressed in an insulated suit, which helped to conduct the large current straight to the ground and thus saved Rabia’s life, along with Nizhar, who rushed him to the hospital.”