Lightning hits SUV, punctures road

TOLONO — Lightning that struck a sport utility vehicle Wednesday night created a 2 1/2-foot-wide hole and a second 8-inch-wide hole in the asphalt on a county road in rural Tolono.

Lt. Brian Luckenbill of the Tolono Fire Department said a woman, who was not identified, was driving the SUV east on County Road 900 N about a quarter-mile east of U.S. 45 at 6:25 p.m. when her vehicle was struck by lightning on the top rear passenger side.

"The lightning blew the plastic trim off the vehicle and then went to the passenger-side rear tire, left the vehicle and blew a hole about 21/2 feet in diameter in the asphalt," Luckenbill said.

Champaign County Highway Department Maintenance Supervisor Tracy Wingler said the hole was at least 12 inches deep.

"I've never seen lightning do this kind of damage to one of our pavements," Wingler said Wednesday night.

Wingler said the lightning also made a second smaller hole.

"That second hole was 8 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep," Wingler said.

Luckenbill said the vehicle lost power and then coasted to a stop. While the woman did not report injuries, according to the report, she was taken to an area hospital to be checked.

Luckenbill said fire department personnel temporarily filled the hole with rock pack from the side of the road, and sheriff's deputies called the Champaign County Highway Department to make repairs.

Wingler said the road will remain open for traffic and permanent repairs will be made in the next couple of weeks.

In Vermilion County, the only report of property damage from Wednesday's storms that the Emergency Management Agency received was a small garage blown apart by high winds in Ridge Farm about 7:15 p.m., according to Rick Harper of the Vermilion County EMA.

Heavy rains of up to 4 inches fell in the northern part of the county triggering a flash flood warning and sending the North Fork Vermilion River over its banks into “minor flood stage: near Bismarck, Harper said.

There were also reports of pea- and nickel-size hail west of Jamaica during the different afternoon and evening storms.
 

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