Extreme Humans

Roy Cleveland Sullivan – The Human Lightning Conductor

Last Updated on September 5, 2020 by Darshan Modi

Roy Cleveland Sullivan
Roy Cleveland Sullivan


Roy Cleveland Sullivan survived being struck by lightning seven times in the course of his life and still managed to live healthfully.


Roy Cleveland Sullivan was born on 7th February 1912 in Green County, Virginia.

Early Life

Roy Cleveland Sullivan grew up on his family’s farm in Virginia amongst 10 siblings, with him being the forth.
Even as a child, Roy Sullivan always demonstrated his love for the outdoors. He would spend most of his time doing standard house chores like cutting wheat.
In 1940, he joined the fire patrol in a national park at 28 years old and together with two other rangers patrolled an area of roughly 40 miles in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia not far from where he was born.

About Roy Cleveland Sullivan

In 1942, as Roy Sullivan was sheltering from a thunderstorm in a fire lookout tower, he was struck by lightning which hit his right leg, toe and left a hole in his shoe. Roy considers this his worst lightning strike.
In July 1969, Roy was hit again while driving his truck on a mountain road. The lighting had hit the nearby trees and reflected to his open window burning his eyebrows, eyelashes and even setting his hair on fire but he survived.
In 1970, Roy Sullivan was struck yet again in his front yard. The lighting hit a nearby power transformer and reflected to his left shoulder scorching it.
In 1972, Roy Sullivan was hit by lightning at Shenandoah National Park, setting his hair on fire. He tried putting it out using his jacket and later rushed to the restroom to find water.
From this fourth strike, Roy Sullivan began to believe that there was some certain force trying to destroy him and was really afraid to die.
He would avoid the storm as much as he could and feared being among a crowd of people since he thought that he attracted lightning. He even carried a can of water in his car just in case his hair caught fire.
On 7th August 1973, as he was patrolling in the park, Roy Sullivan saw a storm coming and decided to drive off to escape it. From his own words, Roy Sullivan says that the dark cloud seemed to have been following him.
Just when he thought he had managed to escape the storm, he came down from his car and was immediately strike by lightning setting his hair on fire, hitting his left arm and leg and crossing over to the right leg. Roy was however still conscious and reached out to the can of water in his truck to put out the fire on his head.
On 5th June 1976, Roy Sullivan was struck again as he was trying to run away from a storm and injured his ankle.
In June 1997, he was hit by lightning as he was fishing in a pond, setting his hair on fire and burning his chest and stomach. As he tried to reach his car, a bear appeared and Roy hit it with a tree branch; he says that it was not the first time he hit a bear but the twenty second!
Roy Sullivan died on 28th September 1983 at 71.

ALSO READ ABOUT:   Isao Machii - The Modern Day Samurai

Genetic Or Learned

It is still not clear how Roy Sullivan was able to survive all the strikes of the lightning but has proven that all of us are able to conquer the obstacles we face.

Guinness World Records

Roy Sullivan holds the record for the highest number of occasions struck by lightning.

Names Known By

Human Lightning Conductor
Human Lightning Rod

Official Page



Featured In

The New York Times Archives
Discovery Channel

Books Published

The Oak and Serpent
A Mathematical View of Our World