Lightning kills Westminster man, 28 He was playing horseshoes with friends in his yard

September 23, 1998|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

There was no rain or thunder Monday night when a sudden lightning bolt killed Wilson Harry Blizzard Jr., a 28-year-old Westminster plumber and athlete who was pitching horseshoes with friends in his yard.

Blizzard, of the 1700 block of Old Westminster Road, was pronounced dead at 8 p.m. at Carroll County General Hospital after attempts by his fiancee, friends and paramedics to revive ,, him failed, according to Maryland State Police and Westminster emergency crew members.

Blizzard was pitching horseshoes at 7: 18 p.m. when a sudden bolt of lightning struck a medium-sized tree about six feet away -- then hit him and a friend, knocking both to the ground, said Trooper Ed Winkler.

Neither man was holding a horseshoe at the time.

When Blizzard did not get up, the friends started cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the trooper said. There was a storm nearby at the time, with lightning reported in the Finksburg area.

Blizzard's fiancee, Jill Rickels, said, "I was in the house when the lightning stuck. It sounded like an explosion, and my neighbor screamed, 'Get out here -- Wilson's hit.'

"There are 50 trees here, and there were about six where Wilson was. Why it had to hit that one, I just can't understand. The worst part was, there's no warning: no thunder, no rain. Just out of nowhere, this bolt hits this one tree.

"I was giving him CPR, and by the time I stopped, the water was running down the road a couple inches thick -- and then, just that quick, it stopped," she said. The other man who was hit "got right back up, and the hairs were singed on his arms."

An award-winning duckpin bowler and a plumber by trade, Blizzard also was known as "Whipper" -- a nickname that his parents gave him as a boy, said his father, Wilson H. Blizzard Sr. of Hampstead.

A 1988 graduate of North Carroll High School, Blizzard was a member of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 486 in Baltimore. He was working with his father on a project at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The father and son also bowled together, and the younger Blizzard won amateur and professional duckpin bowling tournaments in 1993 and 1995.

He bowled for three leagues, at Westview, Pikesville and Southwest, his father said, including one league that travels the East Coast. The younger Blizzard also enjoyed golf, horseshoes and softball.

"I've been bowling since I was 3 years old," he told The Sun in a 1993 interview. "Dad started me bowling as soon as I could manage to throw a ball down the lane. And of course, since Dad was a good bowler, I had a ready-made coach."

Blizzard was divorced and has an 8-year-old son, Brandon Blizzard of Westminster. He also is survived by his mother, Mildred Fuhrman Blizzard; grandparents, Walter and Gladys Fuhrman of Upperco; a half-brother, Robert Brickert of Burns, Wyo.; and a half-sister, Tammy Brandt of White Hall.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Eline Funeral Homes in Hampstead. The family suggested memorial contributions to the American Cancer Society.

Pub Date: 9/23/98

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