Seaway teacher struck by lightning is preparing to return to the classroom


He had hoped to return to the classroom yesterday, but Rodney Benton, the Seaway District High School teacher who was last week struck by lightning, still needs a little more time.

Benton was outside of the school at lunchtime running a boys baseball practice, May 15. When he noticed the skies darkening, he told the kids it was time to head inside.

On his way into the school, carrying an aluminum baseball bat he was struck by lightning. None of the students were harmed by the lightning strike that occurred at 12:20 p.m.

“All I heard was a loud noise. I saw a bright orangy white light, and I was knocked down to the ground,” said Benton. “I didn’t know what had happened, then the kids told me I was struck by lightning.”

The group rushed into the school. “I guess that’s when the shock set in,” said Benton, recalling the difficulty he had in communicating. “It was like everything was happening in the distance,” he said.

Staff had called paramedics, who started treatment immediately and transported him to Winchester Hospital.

Benton says at Winchester Hospital he was hooked up to IVs and monitored closely. He explained that they watch closely for kidney failure and they did some tests on his heart and his muscles, which contract with a huge intensity during a lightning strike.

Benton, a 31-year old father of two, soon to be three, is happy to report that at his last doctor’s appointment his heart is looking good, his kidneys are doing well and his muscles are getting back to normal.

“Physically, I’m getting there, but mentally this is taking a toll,” he said. “Thinking so much about your own mortality is a weird feeling,” he says.

“Honestly, I want to get back into the public and back to school, but mentally and physically, I’m not sure I’m ready yet,” he said.

He has only talked to a few of his students online since the incident last week.

But, he has done a lot of talking to the media. “I know that I wouldn’t want to be famous,” he says. 

“After a traumatic event like this, it’s a lot to be telling the same thing over and over again. But, I guess that’s a form of therapy too. The other day I was getting a bit fed up with talking about the same thing over and over again, because everyone is asking me about it. My mom made me realize that people are asking out of genuine concern.”

“This story has had a happy ending. When so often news stories are all about the bad, this is a nice survival story,” said Benton.

“I would really like to thank Terry Gardiner, SDHS principal and the staff for all their actions. The cards and emails I’ve gotten have been incredible. Seaway is like another family to me. I really want to give a shout out to them,” concluded Benton.

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