SAINT JO (CBSDFW.COM) – As a rodeo clown, 31-year-old Casey Wagner has often stared fear in the face, but it was Mother Nature who literally brought him to his knees, after he was struck by lightning — twice.
Wagner attended a Rednecks with Paychecks event in Saint Jo, Texas, west of Gainesville, Saturday, where hundreds show up to race, off-road and go "mudding" while camping out at huge sites.
Saturday afternoon, severe weather rolled in bringing heavy rain and lightning.
Wagner and his two friends were looking for shelter from the storm when they stopped under a tree. Wagner's friend left in search of a bathroom and Wagner was left there with his friend's father.
They were standing about 5 feet away from each other when lightning struck.
"What I remember is just a loud boom and it dropped me to my knees and then it hit me again," Wagner said. "When I got hit, it was just two big ol' flashes and then sparks went everywhere."
Wagner said he felt electricity shoot up through his right boot and into his body.
The electricity swept across his chest, then out his near his left wrist.
"I had discoloration where it would have popped out," he said.
A nurse who was nearby, kept him calm until he was transported by ambulance to Nacona General Hospital a few miles away.
"At the hospital they said the poncho I was wearing was carrying static because it was one of those plastic ones," he said.
Wagner said his heart skipped a beat and doctors ran several tests and monitored his kidneys and heart until his heartbeat was regular again. He initially lost feeling in his lower right leg and at the exit point on his left arm.
Twenty four hours later he was still shaky and jittery, but miraculously, that was the extent of his injuries.
"I've got all the feeling back. It just feels like my whole body is waking up from… like if your arm falls asleep, that's how my whole body feels," he said. Doctors say that tingling feeling will last about a week.
He says only one thing could have kept him alive.
"I give everything to God," he said. "So I owe everything to him, he's the one that kept me alive. I can tell you one thing, I'm going to start going to church more."
Wagner says he plans to return to off-roading and Rednecks with Paychecks, but only when skies are clear.