It’s been almost 10 days now, and Alex Shoemaker’s Ford Explorer still won’t run.
That’s how damaging the direct hit from a lightning bolt was during the intense thunderstorm that pounded Wichita on July 6. A surveillance camera overlooking a parking lot at Aerospace Systems and Components, 5201 E. 36th St. North, caught the lightning strike.
The noise from the lightning and thunder was “huge,” Shoemaker said, but he didn’t think anything bad would happen.
“Then I just heard a rumor of a car being hit” and the more they talked about it, Shoemaker said, and the more details they gave the more it sounded like his 2003 Explorer.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
“When I came out, it didn’t even look that bad,” Shoemaker said.
But the antenna was melted and the Explorer wouldn’t start.
It’s now at Mel Hambelton Ford, where mechanics ran diagnostics and discovered the Explorer’s computer had been fried.
“We have to replace the computer just to figure out what else is wrong,” Shoemaker said.
He’ll need to replace his battery and likely his stereo, among other things.
The July 6 storm pummeled the Wichita area with lightning that shook the ground and sounded like explosions when it hit. Lightning is blamed for a house fire that caused an estimated $1 million in damage in The Foliage, a gated community near 13th and Webb Road.
The bolt that struck outside Aerospace Systems didn’t just damage the Explorer, it blew holes in the asphalt beneath the vehicle as well, Shoemaker said.
Owners of vehicles parked next to the Explorer have also reported electrical issues with their cars.
That a lightning bolt could destroy a vehicle’s electronics should come as no surprise. Researchers have estimated that the average bolt of lightning contains at least 1 billion joules of energy — enough to power a 60-watt light bulb for six months.
Shoemaker said he never saw the lightning strike that struck his Explorer, but he has since seen the video.
“It’s a pretty cool video,” he said. “If it wouldn’t be costing me money, I might have even enjoyed it.”