VALLEY MILLS, Texas – It took seconds to change the lives of a Texas family following a lightning strike that killed a loving father and severely injured his youngest son.
Silence fills a room at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center as the occasional beeping from medical equipment drowns out a grieving mother’s wish. Angel Boggs is comforted by her sister as she watches her 6-year-old grandson embark on a journey no one should ever witness.
The Valley Mills woman will soon bury her only son of 34 years after he died on contact following the freak accident.
Seeing his sons’ school bus pulling up the street after school was a highlight for Matthew Boggs. It was a daily routine for him as he would sometimes go to the bus stop 20 minutes early and wait for his two kids to come home.
“He would just sit there and wait on his kids,” Matthew’s mother, Angel, said. “He was a good, loving father. He loved his kids. His kids were everything to him.”
It was just after 5 p.m. Monday in the small Central Texas town of about 1,400 people when the bus arrived to drop off Grayson from kindergarten and his 11-year-old brother, Elijah.
As the three walked up their heart-shaped driveway, Elijah went to the left while Matthew and Grayson went to the right.
“Matthew was holding (Grayson’s) hand,” Angel recalled as she watched from her riding lawnmower tending to the family’s acreage. “He just got done telling Grayson, ‘I love you, buddy,’ and that’s when the lightning hit.”
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Elijah had already made his way to the porch when thunder could be heard. As he looked out into the driveway, the preteen witnessed his father’s death.
He was the first to rush to their aid. His grandmother, who also saw the two hit the ground, was right behind him. Neighbors soon joined them after running from their field.
The force of the strike knocked the shoes off Matthew and Grayson as they landed face down on the pavement. Elijah started to roll his brother over when he noticed a smirk on his face – he thought they were joking.
When family members rolled Matthew over, he was already blue. They immediately started CPR on Grayson while a neighbor started life-saving measures on Matthew.
Less than 48 hours after the strike, Grayson still lies unconscious under doctors’ care on a ventilator and suffers seizures often. His liver, pancreas and lungs are starting to heal, and he is now responding to pain. However, doctors told family members they are now concerned with how much brain damage he possibly suffered.
“We’re holding onto our faith and holding together,” Angel said. “We’ve got a big, strong church family that is with us and never has left us since that’s happened.”
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Angel can now only hold onto the memories she shared with her son, who had special needs. She vividly remembers when her son and grandsons would pretend they were in the WWE, and their dad’s bed was the ring.
“They would wrestle around on it and play tag team. Oh, that was great,” she cried.
Matthew also loved to toss the football back and forth with his kids. He also enjoyed playing basketball and video games.
“They were also all very involved in the church,” Angel said.
A GoFundMe has been established to help family members pay for funeral arrangements to transfer Matthew’s body from Texas back to Indianapolis, where the remainder of his family is located, along with the family’s burial sites.
Yet, until that day arrives for her to bury her only child, she is turning to her faith and holding her loved one close, unsure of what the next day will bring.
“Without Him, it could have taken them both,” Angel cries. “Without Him, we wouldn’t get through this at all without God. He is our Lord and Savior, and he doesn’t give you too much that you could handle. He’s always with us. Always.”
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Boggs’ death was the third lightning fatality in the U.S. this year and the first in Texas, according to John Jensenius with the National Lightning Safety Board. The Lone Star state ranks second in the nation behind Florida, with 19 lightning fatalities in the past 10 years.
The last known lightning fatality in Texas happened on July 2, 2020, when a 16-year-old boy was struck outside his home.
Based on the past 10 years, the board said the U.S. averages 2 lightning fatalities through May 16.
“You never know what is going to happen in life,” Angel said. “You can’t be prepared for something like this, of course, but just keep your faith and stay strong with God. He’s got you.”