Saved from Flying Bullets

Heading Home for the Holidays

Does God protect? These college kids found out….

Five of us were going home from college in Springfield, MO heading toward Ohio for Christmas. We took turns driving, and around midnight, I took the wheel. Everyone else slept while I drove the snow-covered roads. I passed a car in the blowing snow with Florida plates. I moved back around into the right lane and saw the car drive right up close behind me, and then immediately pass me again, signing obscene gestures as he did.

Staring at the End of a Barrel!

As soon as the car pulled back in front of us, he hit his brakes, causing me to swerve into the passing lane to miss him. He slowed, so  I started to pass this same car again. The car sped up and drove right beside me on the right side of the road to prevent me from passing. I saw the driver whip out a .45 revolver and aim directly at me. It felt as if I were staring down the end of the barrel. 

I slammed on the brakes to slow down and be next to the other car’s back bumper. This forced him to concentrate on driving rather than aiming his gun, but he still pulled off a couple of shots. I heard a ping. By the second shot, I swerved to miss the bullets.

Next Exit

By now everyone was awake, confused and wondering what was happening. I was glad to see our exit was the next one. I quickly turned onto the exit and drove to where we would meet up with our parents to take us the rest of the way home. Thankfully, the Florida car didn’t follow us. At the rest stop, where we met our parents, were two sheriff’s cars. We told them about the shooters. They weren’t sure if we were a bunch of college kids playing a prank or telling the truth, but they went out to look for the car.

Bullet Holes Found

It seemed surreal. Did someone really shoot at us? The girl, whose car we traveled in, called the next day. When her father checked over her car, he found one bullet lodged into the battery block wall; the other bullet was lodged in the windshield wiper tray, inches from coming inside. Things could have ended much differently that December night.

God was watching over us that night, for sure. I am thankful for His protection and safety for that time and for many others.


Travis Simonson

Travis Simonson, my son, recalled this incident from his college days. He now works in Kansas City, MO as a VmWare Admin | IT Specialist with the FDA.

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Struck by Lightning-Marked for Life – Pt.2


David Gilmore, struck by 100 million volts of lightning gasped for breath as he was rushed to the nearest hospital.

Clothes were stripped from Gilmore’s body at the hospital and a shot given for relaxation. He was in shock. A steady drip of morphine eased his extreme pain.  He had no feeling in his lower limbs; his feet would not move, his toes would not wiggle. He couldn’t lift his legs and his skin was ivory white.

A Question Mark on His Head

Lightning-question markThe lightning marked his body from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. It burned a question mark on the top of his head. The barber strap bruise went from the left side of his head to his lower right hip. The bruise then went down his right leg in the standard zigzag pattern all the way to his little toe. On his left side, the pattern was on the inside leg coming out the arch of his foot.

The zipper on his pants was melted, but his body not burned. The lining of his white socks was burnt, yet his leather boots were undamaged. The doctor relayed that this was the probable reason he was still alive. Had he worn rubber-bottomed shoes, a double dose of lightning would have gone through his body, not being able to hit the ground.

Paralysis – Morphine & Pain

man in black hoodie holding fire

Photo by Wojciech Marciniak on

As the paralysis began to subside, the pain of electrocution was still intense. Morphine only minimized the pain and left him in a near-dream state.  “It was as if I could see my thoughts in front of me–like watching a video of my own imagination. The doctor came in with his white lab coat to examine me. I thought it was an angel sent to take me home. There was no fear, but then I recognized him. “Ahh Doc! It’s you.”

Within the first six hours, the doctor came back in and pushed a needle into Gilmore’s foot. “Can you feel that?” the doctor asked.

“No,” Dave said.

The doctor shook his head and showed  Dave that he’d reached a depth of almost a half inch into the foot. He felt nothing. Asking if he would get his feeling back, the doctor was honest. He told Dave it was difficult to determine with lightning strikes, but that he would keep checking.

Very Lucky Man

Dave and motorcyle with quote

Used by permission of David Gilmore

“You are a very lucky man to be here talking to me. I’ve seen people with fewer markings in the morgue than you have on your body!” the doctor told him.

“Luck has nothing to do with it,” Dave replied. “I’m thankful to the One who’s responsible for me being alive.” He admitted he started praying while laying on the ground under the tree while waiting for the ambulance.

Walked Like a 105-Year-Old Man

Five more hours passed, and Dave began to see movement in his right big toe. He called the doctor back in and was told it was a good sign. He thanked God for this subtle movement and determined to keep moving. After six hours of paralysis, his legs began to move as well. His determination paid off. He was in the hospital for a total of seventeen hours and then fearing a huge hospital bill, he checked himself out against medical advice. The doctor could only prescribe painkillers, not morphine. Gilmore said, “he may as well have given me vitamin pills.” Without the aid of morphine, he said he walked like a 105-year-old man for a week. Gradually all movement returned, although he cannot bend his toes or sprint and is still a little numb from the knees down.

Marked for Life

GIlmore quote

He was marked by God, and small remnants remain  –  a ‘God-kiss’ patch on his neck and a tiny circle on his right hip pocket area. Dave says, “Papa has a sense of humor. The question mark on my head reminds me He has the answers to all my questions.”

“The experience made me understand how much God loves His children and to what length He will go to show you. I now have a better understanding of what a ‘personal relationship’ truly means.

Now I wake up every morning and greet Him with ‘Morning Papa!’ I hope it makes Him smile,” Gilmore said.


DAVE GILMORE_& TROJAN WOMANDavid Gilmore received his M.A. degree from Bowling Green State University in scenic design. He taught theatre technology at Findlay University as a graduate student and now teaches theatre performance/technology at the Firelands branch of BGSU in Huron, Ohio. As the Technical Director/ Designer, he works with lighting and sound and also helps with set construction and scene painting.
Gilmore also does his share of acting at Firelands Playhouse in Huron and at Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio) on the weekends playing diverse roles including the insane narrator of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart.

By David Gilmore as told to C.A. Simonson (c)2018

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100 Million Volts of Lightning: Head to Toe

The possibility of getting struck by lightning is 1 in 3,000, according to National Geographic. The force of electricity and heat five times greater than the sun can cause a tree to explode. In humans, it may cause respiratory problems, third-degree external burns, and paralysis. Hair may singe or catch fire and any metal object could sear into the skin. It is not uncommon for hearing loss, cardiac arrest, coma, or even death to occur in the three milliseconds it takes for a jolt of lightning to course through a body.  Dave Gilmore of Huron, Ohio, met his match with a lightning bolt one summer day and lived to tell an amazing story.

Wild Party Weekend

In 1986, Dave Gilmore had big plans for a wild weekend of cutting loose with friends and letting inhibitions go along with all the other things that can happen at a large biker swap meet. He had no boundaries and lived a rowdy and wild lifestyle. His mother tried to discourage him, saying she had a bad feeling about it.  He assured her he would be fine.

He never made it to the party.

Dave Gilmore & bike in field

Used with permission by David Gilmore

Dave got on his Harley and started the two-hour drive to Orville. Gazing at the beauty of God’s creation that summer day, he began to admire the artistry of God. It brought awareness of his deteriorating relationship with God. Feeling the need to be open and honest, he began to confess out loud. He told God everything he planned to do at this party, even though God already knew.

Dangerous Prayer

As he cruised down the highway, he said the distance between him and God became overwhelming. “Father, you know where I’m going, and you know what I intend to do. Nothing is hidden from You. I’ve been on this path for 15 years. Now it feels like I have gotten very far away from You. I don’t know how to get back to where I need to be. So, Father, I’m going to ask you something I never thought I’d ask. I need you to do whatever it takes to bring me back to you. It scares me a bit to say this, but I trust you. Only You can do this. I need our communion back in my life. I know you love me, but I need to feel that love in my heart.”   Dave thanked Him for an answer and continued his journey.

Awakened to a Drenching Rain

He arrived at the campsite – a cornfield large enough to accommodate 8,000 people surrounded by trees. He set up his tent near two friends. Saturday morning, they awoke to a steady drenching rain. Dave’s first thought was to get coffee and find the nearest porta-potty. His two friends joined him and found many other people waiting in line for the same place.

Growing up in the country, he decided to go into the woods out of sight. Noticing no rain coming through the trees, he beckoned his friends to join him. They stood under the tree canopy laughing at all the people getting sopping wet. They wondered why more had not taken refuge in the woods. The guys waited under the trees making plans for the big party later that night and waited for the rain to subside. They mentioned that it was strange there wasn’t any lightning. Some say you can smell nearby lightning in the air. Others say you can feel it in your hair, like a tingling sensation. None of that happened.

Shelter in the Trees

They saw another guy with a brunette on his right arm and a blond on his left start toward the trees. The very attractive blond wore a white tee-shirt soaked by the rain. One of Dave’s friends pointed her out to him.

“Get a load of her, Dave,” they laughed, knowing he’d like what he saw.

To see past them, Dave moved two feet beyond the tree. “Nice,” he responded with a grin. The next thing he knew, he was laying on the ground looking up at the brunette.

“Don’t worry, everything’s going to be all right,” the girl said while leaning over him.

Struck Down by a Jolt of Lightning

Gilmore recounts, “There were no memories of anything happening with this girl, but a group of onlookers held a leather jacket above us. Grinning, I thought she had me pinned.  “What do you mean I’m going to be all right?”


Surviving a lightning strike

Dave’s hands moved in slow motion as he tried to grab her arms and sit up. He couldn’t figure out where they were or how they got there.

The girl pushed him back down. “Don’t move. You’ve been struck by lightning.”

Shock set in as the realization rocked his mind. Breathing became extremely difficult.  The girl told him the ambulance was on its way. Dave said that’s when he began to pray for God’s help.

The medics quickly put Dave’s body in the ambulance and administered oxygen as he gasped for air. “Hang in there, buddy!” one of the medics said, “we’re almost there! Sorry for the bumpy ride.”

“I…I’m… I’m trying to …to hang….to hang in there,” his voice came out in short gasps.
They kept talking trying to assure him he would be okay. He wasn’t so sure. He couldn’t move.

He had been struck to the ground by a jolt of one hundred million volts of electricity.


By David Gilmore, as told to C.A. Simonson (c)2018

Come back to read the rest of Dave Gilmore’s experience — coming soon.

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A Ball of Fire Through the House!

70c1618322e03cc72738470e07b20bdb“When this much electricity goes through a house, it’s fortunate that anyone comes out alive,” said the fireman at an Ozarks residence hit by lightning earlier this year. (See story below).

When lightning strikes, it is nothing to joke about. The temperature of lightning can reach around 50,000° F. The electricity in a single bolt can reach 200 million volts, according to

MaryAnn Ellingson tells about lightning hitting their house when she was a small girl.

“It was a terrible lightning storm,” she remembers. “We had a boy who lived with our family. Mom had just brought us three girls downstairs to be safe from the storm when a ball of fire came through the house, down the stairs, and out the front door.” She recalls her mother being beside herself remembering Don was still in his room on a wire-framed bed. Running back upstairs to see if he was all right, she found him still sound asleep, not aware a storm hit.

“God protected us and our house that night,” says MaryAnn. “Nothing was even charred or singed.”

MaryAnn Ellingson lives in Lake Preston, South Dakota, with her husband Martin.

* * * *

In May of 2018, lightning ripped a hole through the roof of Dave and Carol Damanskis of Ozark. Awakening them in the early morning hours as the storm approached, the couple agrees, “We are blessed to be alive, and are so thankful.”

Damage from Lightning

It blew the ceiling off the rooms — Courtesy of KSPR33

The Damanskis were still in bed before 5:00 a.m. when they heard the thunder and lightning getting closer.  Dave said he thought about getting up, and breathed a quick prayer. “Lord Jesus, keep us safe.” Less than a minute later, it felt like a sonic boom went off above their heads, according to Dave.

They found ceilings, sheetrock, and insulation covering their floors. Sheetrock blocked the front door. Fire was on the roof. Electrical boxes and wiring were charred, and internet wiring was blown out of the ground. Yet, the house was not burned down, and minimal damage occurred inside.

Carol said, “It was a true, true miracle that we got out of there alive without a scratch.”

See the whole story from KSPR33 here.


What happens when lightning strikes a person? Few have lived to tell about their jolting experience. More stories coming.  Miracles – or coincidence?

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Surviving the Carr Firenado

“We weren’t under evacuation orders. The fire was approaching from the west and the Sacramento River was between, so we weren’t panicked. Then in a flash, this guy was driving down the street with a bullhorn screaming “GET OUT!”

Video from YouTube shows the #CarrFire just before it hit the Lake Keswick Estates. You can see the ‘firenado’ beginning to swirl as wind and fire blend together.

“FIRENADO.” According to the National Weather Service, preliminary reports indicate the large fire whirl that occurred during the Carr Fire reached speeds in excess of 143 mph and was equivalent to an EF-3 tornado. Read more-

Super fires = Terrifying —  EF-3 tornadoes = Horrifying

143 mph Firenado = Apocalyptic

“Terrifying,” said Nick Bender of KMBC. “The fire whirl collapsed high tension power line towers, uprooted trees and stripped trees of their bark. Maximum winds were estimated at 143 mph, which is equivalent to an EF-3 tornado.”

Sherry Lalonde of  Lake Keswick Estates in Redding said, “This ‘thing’ was at the end of our block in seconds, surprising everyone, the sound was deafening – scariest moment of my life!”

They had prepared all the items they thought were important and had them ready by the front door. They could see the fire approaching from the west, but the Sacramento River was between them and the fire.  No evacuation orders had been given, so they weren’t really worried.

Across the street - Sherry LaLonde

Picture of their house taken from across the street by bell – Picture courtesy of Sherry Lalonde

“All of a sudden a man rushed through the street with a bullhorn screaming “GET OUT!” The fire had breached the river a mile or two south of us and was coming up a canyon creating a 700-foot plus firenado and flanking us. It ripped out trees, picked up trucks and threw them. We had less than two minutes to escape. It surprised everyone.”

Sherry continues, “The look on the faces of the emergency personnel directing traffic was like something you’d see in a horror movie.”

The cat hid under the bed and there was no time to get him. Grabbing their dog and go-bag by the door, they had less than a minute to run. Sherry and Alan saw the immense fire tornado than 4-5 houses away at the end of their street in the now infamous July 29 #CarrFire.

“The sound was deafening as we raced to get away. It was terrifying and we are grateful to be alive and shocked that this monster,” she said on her Facebook page. “It felt like being in a Hollywood disaster movie where they get out at the last minute – very dramatic.”

They made it out in the nick of time with a fire tornado hundreds of feet high flanking them. Grateful to be alive and well, they believed the house was probably gone. The tornado was about 1,000 feet wide where it touched the ground and it burned up to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the  San Francisco Chronicle.

Until they came back to view the damage.

Carr Fire- Sherry Lalonde home

The arrow points to Sherry Lalonde’s home amidst the carnage

Their home was one of the few untouched. Why would the fire discriminate and leave a few homes while taking all the others?  Coincidence?  Happenstance?  Or a miracle?

Sherry Lalonde home

Their home – untouched – Picture courtesy of Sherry Lalonde

Sherry and ALan

Sherry Lalonde and Alan Ernesto Phillips

Sherry said, “I’m in shock at a miracle…all of our neighbors in Lake Keswick Estates have lost everything and we assumed we did too. Ours was one of the only homes left standing! This is bittersweet thinking of our neighbors.  Respect and love to the firefighters and sympathy for my poor neighbors.  How our home made it is a wonderful mystery. I hope to never see something like that again.”

They must replace broken windows (being blown out by the heat) and repair the smoke damage but are very thankful they still have a home in the midst of destruction all around. They are also glad they were able to save their cat.

As of August 15, 2018, the Carr Fire burned 214,527 acres and destroyed 1,077 residences, 22 commercial structures, 500 outbuildings. Many more structures were damaged, according to The base of the fire was over 1000 feet in diameter, winds 135-165 mph. Gases peaking over 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. It is still only 71% contained and has been burning over three weeks. 


Thank you to Sherry Lalonde for permission to share your story.

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Too Close for Comfort

“It felt like a huge boulder smashed me in the face,” he said.

Watching fireworks in the city park of Safety Harbor, FL, this 74-year-old man never expected the fireworks would come so close. But it wasn’t the kind of fireworks he thought. He was sitting in a lawn chair with his face toward the sky watching fireworks when it happened.

From somewhere in the crowd, a bullet fired into the air as the fireworks finale began. It came crashing down on Richard Smeraldo’s head. The Tampa Bay News reported: “It clipped through the bill of his hat, struck the bridge of his nose, exited his nostril and bored a path from his lower lip through the fleshy nub of his chin. Exiting his lower jaw, it struck his rectangular silver medallion necklace.”  The medallion was engraved only days before with his mother’s favorite Bible verse: “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed . . . nothing shall be impossible to you.”

“It’s sort of a miracle when you think about things like this,” he said at his Clearwater home Thursday. “It’s a brush with death, in a way. If my head was moved an inch …” said Smeraldo.

Smeraldo came through this experience with a new lease on life and appeared as if he had only taken a tumble. Although they investigated, the police never found who shot the bullet.

God still is in the miracle-working business. Thank God He watches out for us. He is good — all the time, and all the time, He is good. Keep trusting. Keep believing.

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Run Off the Road

The car came to a screeching halt when something smashed into it in the middle of the highway. They didn’t see it coming and were amazed when they found out what flew toward them.

Risner's totaled car

Courtesy of Pamela Risner

Jean and Pamela Risner and a couple of their friends decided to go to Silver Dollar City near Branson last December 29 to see the festive Christmas lights.  On their way south of Springfield,  they were jolted to a stop as something slammed into their car setting off all four airbags. They couldn’t believe their eyes when they found out it was a 24-foot bass boat which flew into their lane, hit their vehicle and ran them off the road.  Where did this huge boat come from, traveling 60+ mph through the air straight toward them? Continue reading

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