YOUNGSTERS at a popular Scarborough lake cheated death after a lightning bolt struck near their fishing spot.
The ordeal took place at Scarborough Mere when a fearsome bolt hit a tree, tearing off bark and firing dangerous wooden shards at young anglers aged seven to 16 and fishermen.
A junior fishing match was abandoned as frightened children fled the scene.
Andy MacCallaugh, junior match secretary for Scarborough Mere Angling Club, said: “I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life.
“One lad lost all of his equipment when it got blown across and into the lake. You see these things on television but never expect to see it in real-life. It was something I don’t want to experience again.”
The bolt hit the base of a tree in a part of the Mere known by anglers as The Swamp, leaving broken branches and debris strewn across the area.
“It was awful,” said Penny Tiley, 40, of Beaconsfield Street, was fishing with partner Andy just 8ft from the tree when the terrifying ordeal took place.
She said the ferocity of the lightning, which struck during a torrential downpour, had left her extremely shaken.
She said: “It was horrendous, we were sat there fishing and it just went with a big bang. There were branches flying everywhere and bark going in every direction. It was awful.
“You can see right from the top of the tree where the bark has just been ripped off. It was extremely scary and certainly not something you expect when you coming fishing for the day.”
Ms Tiley said although the youngsters, from the Scarborough Mere Angling Club, were further away from the tree than her when it was struck, they too were shocked by the incident.
However, she said the ordeal has not deterred from fishing in the future, and was back at The Mere yesterday to celebrate her birthday.
She said: “The children were fishing on the other lake at the back but they were still petrified by what happened.
“They were screaming and frightening with what was going on even though they were a good distance from it.
“We packed up and left for the night.”