POSTED: Sunday, July 17, 2011 - 9:00am
UPDATED: Sunday, July 17, 2011 - 9:04am
NBC NEWS — A New Jersey family is stunned after a lightning strike killed one of their own at a backyard cookout. Almost unbelievably, it's the second time they've experienced this type of tragedy.
Scott DiGeralamo, lightning strike survivor, says, "I got up and it was chaotic; everyone was screaming and crying."
It happened in a split second.
Scott says, "Next thing you know there was... you can't even explain this bright flash and power, you felt like a back draft."
Like nothing Scott DiGeralomo has ever seen or felt before.
Scott says, "I went to push away from table... I wasn't at the table, I was on the ground a few feet from where my seat was."
DiGeralamo survived the lightning strike that traveled underground blasting the bark off of his family's sycamore tree. Sadly it killed his cousin 54 year old Stephen Rooney.
Rooney was a beloved family man. A husband, father of two, and eucharistic minister at Saint Anthony's church in Hammonton.
His family tells us, he never thought he would die this way, because when rooney was just five his own father was struck and killed by lightning in Fortesque, New Jersey.
Scott says, "His father was fishing, had a knife in his hand so it was a conductor, and got a direct strike from a bolt of lightning."
That was 48 years ago.
Scott says "That evening he actually said 'Don't worry guys we're alright out here. The storm passed, and besides that you're with me... lightning doesn't strike twice in the same family.'"
The rescue squad used a defibrillator to try and revive Rooney, but he never regained consciousness and died five days later.
Scott says, "It was tough because I'm going through this tremendous guilt... why him and not me. It's gonna take a lot of people to fill his shoes. He's probably the closest thing to a saint that ever walked the earth."