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Lightning strike leaves 7-foot gouge in Florida highway after hitting vehicle

<i>Florida Highway Patrol</i><br/>
Florida Highway Patrol

By Amanda Jackson, CNN

A man driving on a Florida highway was left uninjured after lightning struck his vehicle Monday morning, according to officials.

The lightning strike damaged the compact SUV the 48-year-old was driving and left a 7-foot-long, 4-inch-wide gouge in the pavement, according to Florida Highway Patrol (FHP). The man, who police didn’t name, was driving on Interstate 75 in Broward County when the strike occurred, during a heavy rainstorm, FHP said.

CNN affiliate WPLG identified the driver as Ernesto Delhonte and spoke to him at the scene of the accident.

“I saw a light and … I don’t know what happened,” said Delhonte. “But I survived. I am alive. It’s a miracle for me.”

The electrical system and roof antenna of the man’s Nissan Rogue was damaged due to the strike, according to FHP, which left the vehicle disabled. The car came to a stop half-mile north of where the lightning strike occurred, according to WPLG.

“A typical cloud-to-ground, actually cloud-to-vehicle, lightning strike will either strike the antenna of the vehicle or along the roofline,” reads the National Weather Service’s (NWS) website. “The lightning will then pass through the vehicle’s outer metal shell, then through the tires to the ground.”

The vehicle was towed from the scene and a roadway repair crew was notified of the pavement’s damage, according to FHP.

Last month, two people were injured in Walton County, Florida, when a lightning strike sent a chunk of highway through the windshield of a truck.

“The energy from a lightning strike has to go somewhere,” CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said about that incident. “And when lightning strikes an object, such as pavement, it can cause that object to “explode” due to the lightning’s pressure blast wave which is caused by the sudden superheating of the air surrounding the lightning strike.”

Lightning strikes the US about 25 million times a year, according to the NWS, and it kills 20 or more people in the US each year.

CNN’s Alisha Ebrahimji contributed to this report.

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