Day 1 in Nicaragua: Don’t mess with Lightning

As Noah and I landed at 12:15 a.m we headed through the airport to find our ride to the coast.  A bumpy 1.5 hour drive to our host house meets us up with Matt Oberman whom had just traveled up from 4 days in Southern Nicaragua.  I finally lay my head down about 2:15 a.m and set my alarm for 2.5 hours of sleep later at 4:45 a.m.  We arise and charge it a dawn and find it firing.  We get in a solid 3 hour session and scored some water shots on the first day, which doesn’t always happen.  Noah got his taste of a couple barrels on his first trip to Nica.

As the tide gets too low for our morning session we head over to a different spot, providing a punchy beach break that can handle the low tide and a few punts from Noah.  I shot long lens from the beach for a while before we were all ready for a break.   We headed back to the house to eat and take a nap before the adventure of the day really started before our last session which never happened.

A huge rain storm moved through the area waking everyone up from their nap.  Isaac our host recommend a wave check since it might get glassy after the storm passes by.  Just as we pulled out of the driveway and started down the dirt road, a huge bolt of lighting met the ground no more than 100 yards in front of us.  It hit just at the curve ahead of the side of the road at a construction site.  As it hit we saw smoke rise from the area and were all in amazement of what just happened.  We passed 3 locals riding their bikes by the area that got struck.  As we passed a couple of us peered back at the lighting location and we noticed the guys on the bikes suddenly started running into the construction site.  Jasmine, Matt’s fiance and I immediately had the feeling something had happened back at the site.  We turned the truck around and headed back the site and the guys we had passed were now in the middle of the road flagging us down.  At that point we all new it couldn’t be good as the lightning had most likely struck something or someone.  Pulling up to the scene we went from a surf check to a rescue mission as there were two men being carried out from the site.  One looking conscious but not good and the other being carried out lifeless.  I jumped out the the truck as they were speaking in spanish, Hospital, hospital, hospital.  Took out the boards in the back and they loaded up the injured men.  One looked like he was in critical condition (nearly lifeless) and the other seeming to be in serious pain and unable to walk.  We left the boards with a residence next door and immediately headed off to the  hospital (3rd world clinic).  The foreman was in the back of the truck checking on the vitals making sure they still had a pulse.

It was intense.  Noah, asked to drop him off at the house as the blood and lifeless bodies in the back was too much before we make the drive to the hospital.  We raced to the hospital (20 mins away) on the dirt road before hitting the paver road for the last 5 mins.  The men were both still breathing when we got them to the clinic .  Matt and I helped carry the men into the open air ER.  Hospitals in Central America always make me realize how lucky we are to have such advanced medicine at our finger tips.  No windows or air conditioning.  The staff put them both on IV’s and at that point there wasn’t much else to do.  The three of us were pretty shaken on what just went down, but also felt really grateful to be at the right place at the right time.  Headed back to the coast to Isaac’s to tell stories and hear that they were his workers and he knows them personally.  At the time I write this, the guys were then taken to Managua Hospital an hour away to more modern medical care facilities and were in stable condition.

All photos copyright © 2012 Ben Hicks