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Boy Struck By Lightning At Hertford School Football Match

Image source, South Beds News Agency

Image caption, A boy is in a stable condition after a lightning strike on Monday

By Helen Burchell & Rachael McMenemy

BBC News, Hertfordshire

A 12-year-old boy is in a serious but stable condition after he and a man were struck by lightning at a school football match.

The schoolboy and the man, in his 50s, were injured during a tournament at The Sele School in Hertford on Monday afternoon.

Staff at the school performed CPR on the child before paramedics arrived.

Head teacher Chris Quach praised his staff’s actions and said they “brought him back” after “his heart stopped”.

Hertfordshire Police confirmed the boy, who was taken to hospital in critical condition, was now in a “serious but stable condition”.

The man has been discharged, the force added.

‘Sheer panic and screaming’

A parent told the BBC she had been at the tournament watching her son play.

“He was playing against the boy who was struck,” said the woman, who did not want to be named.

“We’d seen lightning but it was miles off and then all of a sudden there was a enormous thud – it went through everyone’s chests.

“The referee was shouting to everyone to drop their umbrellas and phones and get off the pitch.

“Then something hit everyone on the head – it was like being hit with a tree trunk, but my son said it felt like needles and then electricity.

“He was knocked off his feet and then I saw the older man on the ground behind my boy.”

She said: “The boys on the pitch had all fallen over then it was just fields of sheer panic and screaming parents looking for their kids, and unfortunately [two people] were down.”

Dennis O’Sullivan, head teacher of Chauncy School in Ware, Hertfordshire, where the boy was a pupil, told the BBC the child’s father was at the match.

He described the boy as “a really happy young lad” and “a very good footballer”.

“He loves his football, he’s good at school they’re a really fantastic family.

“He’s a really good lad and we’re really hoping he comes back as soon as possible,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

He said that intervention by first aiders at the match “must have been really, really vital” due to boy’s critical condition.

Image source, George Tryfonidis/BBC

Image caption, A boy and a man were hit by lightning during a football tournament on Monday

The head teacher of the Sele School, Chris Quach, posted on Facebook that the lightning strike “affected several people”.

He said his school was hosting the tournament, but its team was not taking part.

However, members of his staff were on site and “rushed to get the defibrillators and performed CPR on the boy,” he said.

“They brought him back – he was revived – his heart had stopped,” he added.

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) said it was alerted to reports that a child and a man “struck by lightning in Welwyn Road, Hertford” at about 17:15 BST on Monday.

It said the boy was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge in a critical condition. The man was taken to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow for further care.

Does lightning always hit the ground?

“As the school mentioned, it’s no surprise the lightning strike affected several people,” WeatherQuest meteorologist Adam Dury said.

“The lightning will have created either a static charge in the air that people will have felt, a shockwave that pushes out from the strike point, making it feel like you’d been hit by a blast of fast moving air, or people felt the warmth from the intense heat of a lightning strike.”

He added: “Lightning doesn’t always hit the ground as it can occur just in the cloud itself. It varies by storm as to how much lightning just occurs in the cloud or strikes from cloud to ground.”

Image source, WeatherQuest

Image caption, The Sele School was in the area of heaviest rainfall at the time of the storm with a direct lightning strike to the playing field

Mr Quach praised Sele School staff and parents for doing “an amazing job” while ambulance crews made their way to the scene.

“Our good wishes and thoughts are with the people who were injured.”

Pupils at the boy’s school were being offered counselling and support, Mr O’Sullivan said.

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