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The Natalie S.


August 11, 1930

Lightning Bolt Kills Fisherman On Local Trawler
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.


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