Mid Valley man dies from a lightning strike on Lackawanna County golf course

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TAYLOR, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) The recent violent weather has now turned deadly as a bolt of lighting killed a man at a local golf course on Friday.

The coroner’s report came out Sunday. It said the 71-year-old victim was trying to seek shelter when he was struck by lightning.

71-year-old Joseph Slivinski of Blakely was struck by lighting while playing golf on Friday at Pine Hills Golf Course in Taylor. He died at the golf course, according to Lackawanna County Coroner Timothy Rowland.

“It’s just a tragedy…Just a real tragedy. It’s really upsetting to hear about that happening on the course. Thoughts and prayers out to his family,” Kyle Puchalski of Taylor said.

Puchalski is a regular at Pine Hills, as was Slivinski, according to other golfers Eyewitness News spoke with off camera. They told us he was a “great guy.” Puchalski says the recent tragedy was heavy on his mind Sunday afternoon.

“Even if you’re having a good round or anything, you should go right into the clubhouse, it’s too dangerous. You’re using clubs that are made of metal and graphite and stuff like that. One lighting strike could hit those clubs and honestly you’d die,” Puchalski said.

Slivinski was trying to seek shelter when he was fatally injured by a lightning strike, according to the coroner’s report. The storm crossed the golf course Friday around 1:30 p.m.

Scott Kozar, owner and general manager of Pine Hills says when a storm is near, a ranger tries to alert golfers on the course. But Friday’s storm came in fast, giving people little time to get out of harm’s way. Eyewitness Weather Forecaster Joe Ruch explains why golfers are at risk.

“Lightning likes to strike the tallest object in an area so in a golf course for example you have 300 yards of flat land so you’re just sticking out really like a sore thumb,” Ruch said.

He says carrying golf clubs heightens the risk.

“Lightning is not necessarily attracted to metal. The danger is it’s much more efficient at traveling through metal so it can make it even more deadly than it already is,” Ruch said.

Ruch told Eyewitness News the United States averages about 39 lightning deaths per year. He says you should get inside as soon as you hear thunder.

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