August 11, 1930
Lightning Bolt Kills Fisherman On Local
John Mello, Jr. Struck Down While
Standing at Masthead During Storm
Companions Dazed by Bolt
Struck by a bolt of lightning during a storm
on Georges, John Mello, Jr., of New Bedford, one of the crew of the local
swordfisherman Natalie S., Capt. Joseph Mello,
was instantly killed, and Fred Grady and Alphonse Sutherland,
who were on look-out with Mello, were dazed by the bolt which tore its
way down the rigging and passed into the sea, leaving the vessel uninjured.
While Mello, Grady and Sutherland
were watching for fish on Friday afternoon, a heavy shower made up and lightning began to
play rings around the schooner, causing Capt. Mello to shout aloft to the
trio to come down. Unheard the first time, the three remained on watch while the
storm lashed the craft, and again Capt. Mello shouted for the men to come
to the deck.
This time they heard, and Grady
and Sutherland immediately started to descend, leaving Mello
fumbling with his safety strap which had in some manner become hard to unfasten.
Suddenly there was a blinding flash, the smell of sulphur and a bold streaked down the
wire rigging, dazing the cook in the forecastle and threw the crew into a panic.
Grady felt something strike
his arm, and then a sense of numbness overcame him and he had all he could do to hold on
to the rigging with his left arm, the bolt having temporarily paralyzed his entire right
side and arm. Sutherland and Grady were about
three feet below Mello, and saw the crew looking aloft. Then they
too gazed toward the top of the foremast, and saw the body of Mello,
hanging by his safety strap.
It required a half hour of the crew's efforts
to get Mello to the deck, where it was found that the bolt had struck him
on top of the head, shot down his back, ripping off his oil coat, and killing him
instantly. The craft was put about and headed for New Bedford where Mello
leaves a wife. The body landed for burial today.