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National MP Maureen Pugh reveals she's been struck by lightning three times, 'cooking flesh' smell has stuck with her

Newshub logo Newshub 14/09/2021 Matt Burrows
a person in a blue shirt and smiling at the camera: Maureen Pugh said she was left like "a vegetable" for six weeks the first time she was struck. © Facebook Maureen Pugh said she was left like "a vegetable" for six weeks the first time she was struck. a person posing for the camera © Provided by Newshub

National MP Maureen Pugh has been struck by lightning three times, she's revealed - once so powerfully it cooked her flesh and another time leaving her like "a vegetable" for six weeks.

In an interview with the NZ Herald, the politician said each time she was struck occurred while she was inside her own or a neighbour's home on the West Coast, causing her major worry whenever there was a storm.

On the first occasion, she was running a bath when lightning struck her house and millions of volts of electricity surged through her body, sending her flying backwards.

While she appeared uninjured at first, her arm later went dead and within days she found herself struggling to think or walk.

"[My doctor] explained that it burns the little capacitors out between the two hemispheres in your brain. I literally couldn't think," she told the Herald. "For six weeks, I was practically a vegetable. It bowled me for six."

The second time, she was turning off her stereo when lightning once again surged through her. While it didn't have the same cognitive impact, Pugh says it caused her flesh to burn.

"The smell is something I will never forget. An intense cooking flesh smell coming out of this pinhead-sized brown dot on the end of my thumb."

The third time, she was babysitting a neighbour's children and picked up the phone when a lightning strike blitzed it out of her hands.

Growing convinced the lightning would kill her one day if she didn't do anything, Pugh and her husband installed an earth strap on the electrical transformer nearest their home.

They haven't been rocked by lightning since, but Pugh admits it's still something that causes her worry even now.

"It's a pretty scary thing," she told the Herald. "It does make you realise how completely vulnerable you are to Mother Nature. She is all-powerful."

The West Coast is New Zealand's wettest, stormiest region. Just last week, it was besieged by rain after a series of "stormy spring weather surges" made their way across the country.

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