Wednesday, July 12, 2000

Lightning victim remains critical

Golfer hit on golf course

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LIBERTY TOWNSHIP — When a sudden storm blew through Green Crest Golf Course on Monday, Raymond Beckett and three other golfers took shelter beneath a tree. The rain subsided, the sun was starting to reappear — and then lightning struck.

• The chance of lightning striking a person in the United States is about 1 in 600,000, yet it kills about 100 people a year and injures another 500 to 1,000 people — more casualties than any other storm-related phenomenon except floods.
• Half of all lightning deaths and injuries occur during sports and recreation, mostly in water or on beaches. About 5 percent occurred on golf courses.
• A storm is dangerously close if fewer than 30 seconds elapse between the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder. Seek shelter in a vehicle or a building, and avoid trees. If that's impossible, crouch down and wrap your arms around your legs. Sources: David Rust, scientist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Okla., and Ron Holle, meteorologist with Global Atmospherics Inc., Tucson, Ariz.

        “I was blinded by the flash and I whirled away from it. Then came the explosion,” said Mr. Beckett, 53, of Batavia, adding that it felt like the concussion from fireworks, but much more powerful. “I stumbled around, and then when I got my wits about me, I saw that Bob was down.”

        Robert Johnson, 63, of Cumminsville, was critically injured Monday by the lightning bolt that struck his left temple and coursed through his body until it exited his right shin.

        A longtime human resources director for Xetron Corp. in Fairfield, Mr. Johnson remained in the intensive care unit of Jewish Hospital on Tuesday.

        The incident occurred while Xetron employees were playing in a golf league. Officials said it demonstrates the importance of staying away from trees during thunderstorms.

        Mr. Beckett and Steve Murphy performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Mr. Johnson in the back of a pickup. The men continued chest compressions and rescue breathing on Mr. Johnson for about eight minutes, until Liberty Township paramedics arrived at 6:48 p.m.

        “That bystander CPR was definitely a big help,” said Liberty Township Assistant Fire Chief John Detherage.


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