Clutching his father’s hand as he walked up the driveway of his home, a 6-year-old boy who was only days from finishing kindergarten is fighting for his life after his dad was struck and killed by lightning, a fierce current of electricity that then traveled to the little boy.
At the time of the fatal strike, Matthew Boggs, 34, was looking down at his adorable, blond-haired son Grayson, saying, “I love you.”
On May 15, about 5:10 p.m., 11-year-old Elijah was walking home from a bus stop, a couple of feet away from his dad Matthew Boggs and baby brother, Grayson, 6, when lightning came out of nowhere and struck his dad and brother.
“I was really scared. I rolled Grayson over and he was kind of smiling a little bit. I thought they were just joking,” Elijah told local news station KWTX. “But when I rolled my dad over the middle of his head was bleeding and his face was already purple.”
Elijah was likely saved because of a separation in the driveway, which caused him to veer to the left, away from his brother and dad, who continued to the right.
Matthew’s cousin, Stephanie Burris, said family members who were home at the time explained that Matthew reached down and grabbed Grayson’s hand right after the two separated from Elijah.
“He just got done telling Grayson—he said, ‘I love you, buddy.’ That’s when the lightning came down,” said Matthew’s mother, Angela Boggs, who was outside mowing the lawn of her home next door to her only son, when she watched him being struck and killed.
When emergency responders arrived at the scene, in Valley Mills, TX, about 30 minutes from Waco, both Matthew and Grayson were unconscious, Matthew without any signs of life.
Grayson, who at the time was breathing but unresponsive, was rushed to the McClane Children’s Hospital Baylor Scott and White.
His mother, Angela, shaken over the freak accident that killed her son, said, “I always took care of him because he was the one that God gave to me. Now my responsibility is to take care of my grandbabies.”
Dr. Max Kopitnik, a trauma surgeon at Baylor Scott & White, explained to KWTX that the bolt struck Matthew in what’s called “a direct hit, from cloud to person,” which he says, “will almost universally be fatal.” The current of electricity, which can cause severe electrical burns on the inside and outside, then traveled to Little Grayson.
The odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 1.2 million. The National Weather Service reports that across the U.S.A, in a 30-year period (1989-2018), there was an average of 43 lightning-related fatalities per year. In addition, only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, the remaining 90% are left with various degrees of disability.
Grayson, whose family says is still mostly unresponsive, has been having frequent seizures and doctors explained that an MRI revealed “damage to his frontal lobe and his optic nerve.” The little boy also suffered a major anoxic brain injury, caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, which could impact his ability to walk, talk, eat, and/or see.
Wanting to support the family after the horrific accident, Burris created a GoFundMe–that’s raised more than $77,000 of the $100,000 goal as of Tuesday–and is providing updates on Grayson’s condition.
Over the past many days, Burris reported that the boy, who has pneumonia and rhinovirus, was moving his eyes, and thought he squeezed her hand, but doctors aren’t sure if those movements were purposeful.
On May 29, she wrote, “The doctors tried to take Grayson off the ventilator today but when they took the tube out, Grayson was not moving enough air on his own, his carbon dioxide levels went up and his oxygen levels went down, so they put the tube back in. The doctor said he will be on the vent for another week or so and try again. At that time if he fails to be off the ventilator again, they will start discussing putting a tracheostomy then.”
Matthew, who moved the family from Indianapolis to Texas about six years ago, was buried on May 27.
In his obituary, Matthew, who leaves behind his wife Kayla and children, Elijah, Grayson, and Navaeh Smith, was remembered as a “faithful member of the Bosque County Cowboy Church” who “loved watching wrestling and being with his family.” It continues, “Matthew found great joy in music and enjoyed singing any chance he got but we can rest assured that Matthew is now singing with the angels.”
“When it came to the boys, they were his world. They were his little buddies. They loved to wrestle and play video games,” said Burris. She continued, “One of Elijah’s favorite things with his dad was when they would go swimming at the pool. They really let loose and would just play for hours and have so much fun in the water.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones of Matthew and Grayson Boggs. We cannot imagine the heartache of everyone who’s left behind, and for Matthew’s mother Angela, and little Elijah, who watched it happen. We hope Grayson recovers quickly and is soon back with his family.