When lightning strikes

On August 4, 1984, four local men were golfing at the former Weatherwax course in Middletown.

"It started raining big raindrops, hitting really bad," said Doug Goodman.

The day was hot and humid but it was not an afternoon with obvious thunderstorms according to the men. Then, the rain started and Jim Van Tine said it was only an instant before they were all on the ground.

PHOTOS: Lightning strikes in the Miami Valley

"That was the last thing any of us remember," said Van Tine.

"You didn't hear anything, feel anything," said Doug Goodman. "If you're going to go, that's the way to go. There's no thinking about it. It's over."

Thankfully for Van Tine, Goodman, Bob Baker and Dick Kroeger, it wasn't over. They were lucky that day to have four Dayton parademics golfing behind them.

"They said it was the loudest, brightest flash that they've ever seen and you know, they saw bodies flip, flopping all over, " said Van Tine.

Baker and Goodman came to first.

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"I can hear Doug's voice saying Jim, Jim, Jim and I was fighting to get out," Van Tine recalled.

Goodman said he covered Van Tine's mouth with his hat because it was raining so hard and he didn't want him to choke. The men said that Dick Kroeger was unresponsive. According to them, his heart had stopped and paramedics revived him. The first responders stopped Kroeger from becoming a statistic that year. In 1984, 67 people were killed by lightning,.

Kroeger also suffered some internal injuries as well. Van Tine was burned on several areas of his body including his chest, neck, wrist and feet.

"Back then you wore spikes in your shoes and it (the lightning) danced between the spikes," said Van Tine. "I have the burn marks on my socks."

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There are different types of lightning strikes that can hurt or kill someone. A direct strike is the least common but most deadly because the victim becomes a part of the discharge channel. Another type is a side flash when someone is nearby a tall oject that is struck. They are also struck because they become part of the current. A ground current strike is the most common and causes the most deaths and injuries. A tall object like a tree will get hit by lightning and the energy transfers through the ground striking anything and anyone nearby.

Jay Caligiuri, the General Manager of PipeStone, where these friends play now, said their story is eye-opening. He said he has never had to deal with a lightning strike in the four years that he has worked at the golf course. But, to be proactive, they now use radar with lightning detection and a horn sound system to alert golfers to potential danger.

'We do our best to let everyone know that 'Hey it's not safe out here,'" said Caligiuri. "We send marshalls out and tell people to come in and then it's completely up to them to make that decision."

Despite their near-death experience, the men have never stopped golfing. Dick Kroeger doesn't live in Ohio anymore but the rest of the group still meets weekly to enjoy a round. They all admit it is more than the love of the sport.

"We like the game, but would I go out here and play four or five times a week by myself? No," said Van Tine. "It's the comradery."