Lightning struck twice for Kiaran McLaughlin in 2006 when he trained Horse of the Year Invasor to an undefeated campaign and got his first Triple Crown victory when Jazil won the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Tuesday, lightning struck again. But it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable.
McLaughlin, 46, said he was upstairs in his Garden City, N.Y., home. “It was about 10 o’clock at night and I was going to bed, when suddenly, I heard this `Boom!. Lightning had hit the house, went right across the room and knocked everything out. Luckily, my family was downstairs and no one was hurt, but the lightning knocked out the chimney. Our computers were on and we were fortunate to have the backup power surge protector. That saved them, but it burned out the wireless router. Later on, the Verizon guy was showing my wife a fuse for one of the phones, and that thing was completely fried.
“The chimney looked like it was hit by dynamite. All the brick came out. It caused some minor damage to my wife’s car, but again, we’re lucky no one was hurt.”
McLaughlin’s wife, Letty, their 16-year-old daughter Erin and 13-year-old son, Ryan, were downstairs.
“When it hit, I said to my daughter, `I think it hit the house,” said Letty McLaughlin, who is the daughter of trainer John Hennig. “It knocked the chimney out and the way the firefighters explained it was that lightning tries to find the easiest place to escape. In this case, it came right down the wall and into the power outlet in the room where Kiaran was at.
“If you remember being a kid and setting off caps, that’s what it smelled like only much more intense.”
Power was out on the entire block. Letty and other neighbors called the fire department, which responded quickly.
There was initial concern for McLaughlin, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, a chronic, long-term condition that affects the central nervous system -- including the brain and spinal cord -- causing the body’s immune system to mistakenly attack itself, targeting the cells, tissues, and organs. McLaughlin said that during the ordeal on Tuesday, he turned “white as a piece of paper,” but quickly recovered and needed no special medical attention.