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'OUT OF NOWHERE A LIGHTNING BOLT': A 'miracle' for the Miss Had
[August 22, 2012]

'OUT OF NOWHERE A LIGHTNING BOLT': A 'miracle' for the Miss Had

Aug 22, 2012 (The Destin Log - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- A "picture perfect day" on the Gulf nearly took a tragic turn Friday when a bolt of lightning split a captain's sunglasses in half and knocked his brother to his knees.

Capt. Preston Muller, his brother Chandler, and four others went out fishing aboard the Miss Had, a 23-foot Sea Hunt boat.

"It was the most beautiful day," Preston said.

The group of family and friends had been fishing about 28 miles out of Destin and had hauled in amberjack, scamp, mahi mahi, mingo and king mackerel.

But as time passed a dark cloud started coming up behind them, Preston said. "We started keeping an eye on it," and about 1 o'clock decided to call it a day and head back in.

About halfway back, "it surrounded us in no time," Preston said.

As the rain started to fall and the chop on the water grew to 5-foot swells, Chandler started pulling out the lifejackets and made sure everybody had one.

"The seas had picked up so much that I could only go about 8 knots," the captain said.

Then "out of no where a lighting bolt," Preston said.

"My sunglasses were split right down the middle," Muller said. "I felt it through the steering wheel." Chandler felt the jolt as well. "He went down to his knees and was screaming and crying," Preston said.

As soon as Chandler went down, his cousin Sid Coleman, and Buck Jehle who were aboard, leaped to his side.

"He was having dramatic convulsions ... it was insane," Preston said. "He had stopped breathing at one point." "It was the scariest situation I'd have ever been in," said Courtney Green, who was also aboard.

"It was a feeling of hopelessness and of no control," said Green, who was huddled up at the front of the boat with fellow passenger Caro Louise Jehle. "We were all praying and hanging on for dear life." However, the one thing Green said she clung to and kept praying over and over again as the guys scrambled on the small boat to take care of Chandler was the scripture, Psalms 34:7 "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them." "It was the longest hour and a half," she said. "It seemed like days" before they made it back in.

With Chandler on the bottom of the boat, Preston had told Sid to pound him in the back in order to revive him.

With everybody aboard the boat in "prayer mode," Chandler came back around, Preston said.

"When my eyes opened, my brother was holding my hand," Chandler said. "I can remember looking at him and saying I didn't want to die," Chandler recounted to The Log Monday. "He said, 'Man I gotcha ... I gotcha.' But the credit goes to God." Preston was trying to drive the boat and make contact with the Coast Guard at the same time, when he saw the charter boat Perfect Shot.

"The captain stopped what he was doing and helped us out," Preston said.

At first Capt. Brady Bowman of the Perfect Shot didn't fully understand what was going on, but he knew they were in trouble.

"I can deal with wind and rain," Bowman said. "But lightning ... you never know when it's going to happen." Bowman relayed the message to the Coast Guard and stayed there with the Miss Had until help arrived.

Preston said the border patrol arrived first and then the Coast Guard cutter boat got there. By then Chandler was coherent and they took him back to Coast Guard Station Destin where he was taken by ambulance to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center for evaluation and treatment and later released that evening.

"It's a miracle, no other way to put it," Chandler told The Log Monday. "The doctor just threw up his hands and said 'you're one of the lucky ones,' " Chandler said.

Through this near-death experience, Chandler says he has a new outlook on life.

"You never know when lightning is going to strike, but don't wait... Quit wasting time and start helping people. That's what we're here for." ___ (c)2012 The Destin Log (Destin, Fla.) Visit The Destin Log (Destin, Fla.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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