Despite sustaining serious burns, Samantha Richards lived to tell a harrowing story.

It happened a week before my senior year of high school. I’d gone over to a friend’s house to hang out with him and another friend. The three of us sat on the front porch in our hometown of Allentown, Pennsylvania, talking and trying to make the best of the scorching 90-degree weather.

At one point, my friend and I got into an argument and decided to take the conversation to the side of the house, where we could talk it out privately. As we went back and forth, I looked down at my phone. My friend fidgeted with his pocketknife, scraping it along the bricks on the side of the house as we leaned against the wall.

That was the last thing I remembered before I suddenly blacked out.

When I came to, I was on the other side of the street, sitting on the road. I stood up, and though I couldn’t see very well, I noticed that the air was cloudy and smoky. Then I saw my friend with the pocketknife sprinting down the street away from the house. I remember being totally puzzled, but I could only concentrate on how thirsty I felt.

I walked back to the front porch where my friend, who lived in the house, was. He shrieked in horror. “Your arm! You have to take your shirt off!” I looked down at my shirt and I saw that my arm was on fire. After quickly tearing off my shirt (I had a tank top underneath, luckily), I noticed my arm was burned.

Immediately I asked him, “What does my face look like?” He said it looked fine, but I felt ready to pass out, so I decided to search for water. I wandered to a nearby convenience store and started crying because I felt so hot and my asthma began acting up.

After buying a bottle of water, I called my cousin for help. At the time, I didn’t realize how serious my condition was and that I’d been electrocuted. According to the Better Health Channel, electrocution happens when an electric current runs through the body. I was, after all, looking at my phone with my head down, so I had no way of knowing that my friend had made contact with a cable wire—which in turn would shock us both and send electricity coursing through our bodies.

My cousin picked me up, and after five minutes in the car, I began feeling excruciating pain—I’d describe it as a series of intense burning and piercing sensations up and down my arm. I took the partially burned shirt I had ripped off earlier and covered my arm with it, holding the water bottle against the skin to cool the burn. Realizing the condition I was in, my cousin decided to head to the hospital.

In the ER, hospital staff and police bombarded me with questions. What happened? Where is the other person involved? I began to have an asthma attack as they cut off all my clothes to inspect my body for burns. When my mom arrived, I was given pain medicine and an IV for dehydration. Everything seemed blurry.

Then a police officer entered the room and explained what had happened. The officer detailed how my friend began probing the cable wire behind the house. Although we weren’t touching at the time, our bodies had been in close enough proximity that the current went through his right arm and then reached me before exiting through my left arm. My friend was in the same hospital, the officer said.