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Now the 'unluckiest man' says lightning sought him out

TAMPA — Four years ago, John Wade Agan told deputies he was robbed at gunpoint in his taxicab, roughed up and stuffed into the trunk of the car.

Three years ago, he drove to a fire station with a butcher knife sticking out of his chest.

Two years ago, in a news conference from his hospital bed, he told the world he'd been bitten by two different snakes at the same time, a claim experts doubted.

He told the St. Petersburg Times he might have been the unluckiest man in the world.

Now, Agan occupies another hospital bed, befallen, he said, by yet another freak calamity: lightning.

He said it happened Tuesday evening during the severe storm that hit the area. He was leaning over a metal kitchen sink, holding a corded phone up to his ear, when he heard a loud boom. He said he blacked out.

His 26-year-old daughter, Misty Agan, was standing just feet away from him and said she heard the phone drop. "Oh! Oh! Oh!" she said she heard her dad say before he crumpled to the ground and began to shake.

Agan said he awoke surrounded by paramedics, finding his right shoe off and a big hole in his sock. "It felt like it was on fire," he said.

Agan, 47, spoke with the Times on Wednesday, propped up in a bed at Tampa General Hospital, picking at a chef salad.

He knows what people say about him — what they said after reading about his snakebites, what some will say when they read this story — that he's lying or somehow hurting himself, maybe to get pain medicine.

"I don't care what people say," Agan said. "Any day of the week, I'll go take a drug test."

But not today, he said. Today, he was on pain medications.

There's no way to prove someone has or hasn't been struck by lightning, experts say. John Agan doesn't have any obvious burn marks. Most victims don't.

He was sore, he said. He had a ringing in his ear. According to a hospital spokesman, his condition was good.

Two lightning experts said a strike while using a corded phone didn't sound unusual.

"It's certainly possible," said Dr. Mary Ann Cooper, a widely cited expert in the narrow field of lightning injury research.

Agan, who plans to seek county aid as an indigent to pay his medical bills, said he didn't want to be in the hospital.

A nurse checked on him.

"I'm having some discomfort again," he told her.

"I'll see when you can have something," she said. "You want the oxycodone?"

"The last one you gave me," he said. "I feel like I've been hit by a car."

A reporter asked: Had that happened to him, too?

His response: "Don't go there."

Contact Alexandra Zayas at azayas @sptimes.com or (813) 226-3354.

Now the 'unluckiest man' says lightning sought him out 01/26/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 11:46pm]
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