Lightning strikes during polo match

June 30, 2008 4:23:42 PM PDT
Lightning struck a polo match, knocking two men and six horses unconscious. Colts Neck was playing Tinicum Park, Pa., when lightning was seen 30 seconds into the match Sunday. Play was stopped and people ran for cover.

Umpire Stephen Conroy and player John Kriegee were working near a horse trailer when the bolt hit, tossing them 10 feet.

"The next minute I'm ten feet away lying in the dirt. My arm is numb," said Conroy. He said he felt electricity lick his elbow and race through his body.

"It's like an electric shock that starts from here," he said pointing to the top of his chest. "It keeps going down, down the body, and out."

Conroy was refereeing a polo match on a ten-acre field on Sunday in the heart of New Jersey horse country. With hundreds of people in attendance, the storm came out of nowhere.

"The clouds came plowing in. I heard his whistle go off, knowing it was danger -- to watch what we were doing. Then the lightning started coming in," said Polo Association director Gifford Brown.

Conroy believes the lightning hit a tree, slicing it, and then hit a horse trailer where he was standing. He believes the lightning was attracted by the metal on the trailer, his whistle, his boots and on the horses.

"All six horses were on their backs unconscious like a domino effect, if you can picture all six with their necks and legs going straight up to the sky," said Conroy.

James Schatzle is a local councilman and paramedic who rushed to help Conroy.

"He was very stunned, but he was talking to me. He was conscious, but he was kind of surprised by the power," he said.

Kriegee refused treatment and drove home. Conroy remains in the hospital, but he says he will be back on the polo grounds very soon.

"I'd like to be back on a horse this weekend doing the same thing, hopefully not getting stuck by lighting," he said with a smile.

STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Toni Yates


Kriegee refused treatment and drove home.