Archive for Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Shouts and Murmurs: Lightning jolts family into fame

July 6, 2005

We never know where a day will take us.

Consider the family of Trent and Kyla Shriner.

The children were still tucked in their beds Thursday morning when lightning hit their house.

The strike raked through the ceiling above 7-year-old Kaylee's bed, then traveled along the corner of the wall, coming out at the level of the top of her mattress, just an inch or so from her bed and less than a foot from her head.

Miraculously, Kaylee and her 5-year-old sister Kristen, who was sleeping in a bed on the other side of the room, survived.

Here's what Kaylee told The Mirror a day after the strike: "I just heard a sound, it woke me up. I saw a bright light and my bed was on fire."

Kaylee, whom her father jokingly described as being "7 going on 17," said she told her sister her bed was on fire and that they needed to go downstairs and tell their parents.

It's fortunate that the girls had the presence of mind to run downstairs.

Kaylee said there's a simple reason for that -- it's something she learned at school when Tonganoxie firefighters visited the elementary grades talking about fire safety.

"When there's a fire you stop, drop and roll," Kaylee said articulately. "I learned that from school, a fireman told us that when I was in kindergarten and first grade."

Like an expert on fire prevention, the soon-to-be second-grader rattled off other fire safety rules, adding astutely, "It's very important to know those things."

Since Thursday, the little girl with curly blond hair, green eyes and a wide smile has become somewhat of a national celebrity.

She started with Lawrence and Kansas City television stations. Then radio stations and, finally, at just a little past 7:30 a.m. Monday, Kaylee, and her family were featured on the national television show "Good Morning America."

This column is about heroes, large and small.

It's a miracle that Kaylee survived the lightning strike, it's a wonder her house still stands.

But the young lady had the presence of mind to get her younger sister downstairs to safety, to alert her parents and to get to safety.

Her parents, meanwhile, played a large part in keeping their house from burning down. It's fortunate Trent was able to carry the mattress outside without suffering serious burns, and that Kyla followed, putting out fires that started when the burning mattress was carried through the house.

Just a month ago, Trent, who works for an area carpet company, had installed new carpeting on the staircase in their house. Friday morning the fire-damaged carpet was the least of his concerns.

And Tonganoxie city firefighters, who as are other emergency workers are routinely called out to work in the worst kinds of weather, were right on the scene. They carved out the bedroom ceiling to make sure the roof wasn't on fire. And then they rushed to the century-old Friends Church, where bolt of lightning struck its roof.

From morning until evening Thursday, lightning bolts could be seen across the area.

Most of us will put it in our memory banks as a day filled with daunting displays of nature's power.

But for one Tonganoxie family, thrown into the limelight by a morning's misadventure, the day will never be forgotten.

From Tonganoxie to "Good Morning America," to who knows where else as the word spreads, it could be said, on several levels, that Kaylee Shriner is leading a charmed life.

And it just goes to prove -- we never know where a day will take us.

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