Is this Florida man the unluckiest guy ever?
If you think you’re unlucky, you haven’t met Kyle Cook of Lakeland, Florida, near Tampa. Cook has been on the receiving end of a lightning strike and bites from a rattlesnake, a brown recluse spider and an alligator. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The Lakeland man takes Murphy’s law to a whole new level, also taking stings from man o’ war and stingrays. The rattlesnake wasn’t his first snake bite, either, as he’s suffered bites from indigo snakes, corn snakes and a Burmese python.
“I need to get a (protective) bubble,” Cook told the Ledger.
All of these incidents have happened fairly recently, beginning with the lightning strike in August 2012. While doing operating a sweeper truck, Cook had left his vehicle to release a hydraulic line that caused his vehicle to become stuck in a gutter.
It was his misfortune that lightning struck at that moment about 10 feet away, and the electricity flowed through the puddle, into the sweeper’s metal bristles and eventually his hand.
“It was like Mike Tyson hitting me with a jackhammer in the jaw,” he said.
The blast knocked him back 6 feet and knocked him out for almost a minute. The incident caused Cook to have a minor heart attack and he now suffers from severe spinal and nerve damage.
“I still have severe PTSD when a storm comes through,” he said. “Lightning scares me so bad now.”
In 2016, he suffered bites from both a brown recluse and a rattlesnake. The first was back in April, when a highly venomous spider bit Cook’s left hand while he was working at a warehouse.
Cook’s reluctance to go to a doctor at first nearly cost him his hand in the incident. He continued to work for at least a week because he didn’t want to lose a paycheck. Eventually he had to have surgery to save his hand from being amputated as result of toxin buildup almost leading to osteonecrosis.
The incident has also left the 31-year-old father of four with limited use in that hand.
Most recently, the rattlesnake bite provided quite the scare as he worked to finish up mowing his lawn. He was using a push mower and thought something might be wrong with the machine when he heard a loud rattling sound.
When Cook spotted the 5-foot-long eastern diamondback rattlesnake at the edge of his lawn, he tried to back out of the area, but, in a scene that sounds like it’s straight out of a movie, he stepped onto a stick and set the reptile off.
“When it snapped, it moved so fast,” Cook said. “I’ve heard they can move half the length of their body in less than two milliseconds. I didn’t even see it bite me. I just screamed and ran to my wife.”
The rattlesnake incident may have been the most fortunate of his bad-luck incidents. The snake’s fangs didn’t get adequate penetration beyond adipose tissue in his right ankle.
“(Doctors) said the tissue saved my life because it didn’t allow (the venom) to go into the bloodstream,” he said.
Cook went home after a night in the hospital, but the ankle still bothers him.
Cook’s main focus in the snake incident is not so much on himself, but his family.
“I’m just glad the kids weren’t back there,” he said. “These creatures, they don’t go out looking for us. We just stumble upon them.”
Such was the case of his alligator bite, as he accidentally hooked the reptile while fishing.
In case you’re wondering about the odds of some of these bizarre incidents, Cook has definitely been going against some big numbers. The National Weather Service estimates a 1-in-12,000 chance of being struck by lightning in an average lifetime. For a venomous snakebite, the Department of Wildlife reports only one in 37,500 people are bitten each year.
When it comes to a brown recluse, only around 342 spider bites are reported in Florida each year. And, according to studies by the University of California Riverside, almost 90 percent of brown recluse bites result in small red marks that heal without scarring.
If I were Kyle, I’d be avoiding the ocean just in case I defy the 1-in-3,748,067 odds of being attacked by a shark!
What do you think? Is this the unluckiest guy ever?