Man playing softball with kids struck, killed by lightning - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Man playing softball with kids struck, killed by lightning

Michael Gullege  (Source: Marion Mathis) Michael Gullege (Source: Marion Mathis)

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A man playing softball with a group of kids was killed and four others were injured Tuesday evening when a ferocious thunderstorm blew through the Ruby community. 

Director of Emergency Management Harold Hainey said 26-year-old Michael Gullege were part of a group of neighborhood kids and adults playing softball around 7:30 on Thurman Ave. near Highway 9 when the fatal lightning strike happened.

The bolt killed Gullege and sent three others, including a child, to Chesterfield General Hospital, Hainey said. None of the injuries were considered serious. 

Gullege's mother said the group was trying to form a church softball team when the accident occurred.

Photo Slideshow
Click to photos of Michael Gullege and the scene of the lightning strike

The three that were transported were taken to hospital were treated and released. One man refused treatment on the scene.

"He was strong, loving kind, but he was mean when he wanted to be," laughed Deadria Clendenin.

Still, Gullege's girlfriend says he was a charmer. "At first we were just really good friends, but there was no way I could be really good friends with someone as amazing as he was, the most amazing man there was in the whole world," said Marion Mathis.

Gullege liked playing softball, and was getting a church league together at a field to practice when the lightning struck. "I feel like that was the only thing that could kill him," said Mathis. "Only the power of God could kill him."

"We had him at the same hospital we lost him at," said Clendenin. "Coincidentally, he passed on the day his father and I got married."

It's the same hospital where Gullege became a dad to Shelby three years ago. "When she was born, it was one of the happiest days of his life," said Clendenin. "He loved her more than life itself and she loved him."

Gullege had half custody of his little girl. The family says they don't know how to tell her what no one can explain, how a man so full of life could die like so few have.

"We wanted to have kids of our own and get married," said Mathis. "We were ready. We wanted that. We dreamed of everything together."

The National Weather Service last recorded a lightning death in South Carolina in July 2008 when 19-year-old Corey Moore was hit while riding a personal watercraft on Lake Marion.

Meteorologist Ben Tanner says isolated strong or severe storms are possible again Thursday night.

Click here for the latest First Alert Storm Team Forecast

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved.

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