Deaths due to Lightning Strikes: A Retrospective Study of a Ten-year Period (2007-2017)

Ketenci H. Ç. , Beyhun N. E. , Çakır E.

The Bulletin of Legal Medicine, vol.26, no.3, pp.33-39, 2021 (Refereed Journals of Other Institutions)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 26 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.17986/blm.1457
  • Title of Journal : The Bulletin of Legal Medicine
  • Page Numbers: pp.33-39



Lightning is a major reason for weather-related deaths and injuries. The risk of being struck by lightning is higher for those who work outdoors.


In this retrospective study, 19 lightning-related deaths between 2007 and 2017, which were obtained from the archives of Council of Forensic Medicine Trabzon Group Chairmanship, were evaluated.


The age range of the cases was between 8 and 75 years and 15 of them were male. Nine of the cases were a shepherd. The number of the cases went to the top in June with nine cases and 17 of the decedents were found in outdoor spaces. On the external examinations of eight cases (42%), there was a Lichtenberg figure. The electrical entrance regions were the head and neck in 10 cases (53%). Bleeding, contusions and lacerations, especially in the lungs and brain, were considered to be due to the blast effect of the lightning. Subepidermal/suprabasal dissociation, spindle appearance in epithelial cells of epidermis and dermal appendages, intraepidermal vesicles and collagen denaturation were detected in microscopic examinations.


Lightning is an airborne event that may cause death in outdoor environments. After a lightning strike, a Lichtenberg figure can be seen on external examination, and macroscopic bleeding in the lungs and brain can be observed on internal examination. It will be beneficial to provide basic awareness training on lightning strike risks for the whole society, especially for shepherds and agricultural workers, to reduce the deaths due to lightning strikes, the exact death causes of which can be determined through autopsies.

Keywords: Autopsy, lightning, death, lichtenberg figure, electrical entrance wound