News and Events

Treated at Rambam, Father of 3 Survives Lightning Bolt

Publication Date: 1/16/2023 11:00 AM
After being treated by an expert medical team at Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa, Israel, a father of three survives a powerful and direct lightning strike.
Rabia Halabi with the friend who saved his life, Nizhar Farhat. Top Inset) Halabi's insulated clothing, damaged by the lightning. Photography: Rambam HCC.Rabia Halabi with the friend who saved his life, Nizhar Farhat. Top Inset) Halabi's insulated clothing, damaged by the lightning. Photography: Rambam HCC.

Heavy rains over Haifa Bay did not deter Rabia Halabi, a 41-year-old bus driver and father of three from Daliat al-Karmel, a village outside of Haifa, from enjoying an afternoon of fishing with his friend and neighbor, Nizhar Farhat. Unfortunately, the pleasurable afternoon went awry.

Dressed in insulated clothing, the two friends did not realize that last-week’s wintery weather would endanger their lives. The two stood apart on rocks overlooking the water, with their rods and supplies in between. As the afternoon passed they noted lightning cross the sky. Just as Halabi cast his fishing rod, a powerful lightning bolt struck the rod and he flew into the air and landed on the ground – meters away. He lost consciousness and his left hand and right leg were burned.

Farhat, witnessed the entire event. First came the explosion of lightening hitting the fishing rod, which sent Halabi flying and then thrown back to the ground and then the loud deafening explosion of thunder. “It was like a scene from a movie – it was incomprehensible,” Farhat told the medical team at Rambam Health Care Campus (Rambam). Wasting no time, Farhat grabbed the unconscious Halabi, bundled him into his car, and rushed to Rambam’s emergency room. Halabi was admitted to the Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein Z” L Shock Trauma Room in the Green Wagner Department of Emergency Medicine. To stabilize his condition, Halabi underwent a series of tests. After regaining consciousness, he was transferred to the hospital’s Department of Internal Medicine C. Speaking from his bed, Halabi said: “Don’t wander outside on stormy days, and for someone like me, who loves to fish, don’t do it!”

One day after the incident, Halabi was still in pain from the impact of the throw and the burns he received from the lightning. He said, “I took up fishing a few months ago. When I go fishing, I wear an insulated suit that, apparently, protects me. The lightning that struck me traveled straight to the ground. I can’t remember what happened – my friend, Farhat, told me everything I know about it. Farhat saved my life. All I can remember is waking up in the emergency room and not understanding why I was in pain and had burns on my hand and leg.”

Rambam issued this comment: “It was a miracle. Halabi suffered burns on his left hand and right leg. The lightning passed through his body with great force. Luckily he was wearing an insulated suit, which helped to conduct the massive current straight to the ground and saved Halabi’s life. There is evidence of the lightning strike on his clothing. Halabi does not remember the incident, and much of his treatment was based on Farhat’s testimony. Farhat kept his cool and rushed him to the hospital, thus saving Halabi’s life.”