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5 injured in lightning strike at Poughkeepsie park; 3 critical

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AJ Ross has the story. (Photo: Michael Shanley)

Five people were injured after a lightning strike inside a park in Poughkeepsie Friday afternoon.

The incident happened in Mansion Square Park around 4 p.m.

They thought they would find refuge in a storm but instead a small group nearly lost their lives.

There's not much visible damage to the tree but the damage this lightning strike left behind is still being felt with five people now hospitalized.

A fast moving and powerful thunderstorm left a small group in Mansion Square Park with little time to react, when lightening reportedly struck a tree and sent dangerous volts of electricity of through these nearby benches and the ground.

"We heard the lightning strike you know the ground shook it was crazy and then we see people running in the park over here," said Sam Hale, a witness.

"I saw three gentleman on the bench two of them leaning against each other, a third leaning against them a young lady with a purse that was still smoking and smoldering," said Wilford Hutchinson, a witness.

Patricia White says her brother Franklin Mekeel was one of the men shocked while sitting on this bench.

"He got blown off the bench and his heart stopped. They did CPR for 30 minutes, he's in ICU right now," White said.

She calls the 46-year-old father of three a fighter, but Franklin now has some challenges ahead.

"They're going to do some kind of procedure, some kind of heart lung procedure to find or what kind of damage was actually done," White said.

Police first started receiving 911 calls about the lightning strike just after 4 p.m. Friday and when medics arrived on scene they discovered four men and a woman injured.

Three were taken to Vassar in critical condition while two others with less serious injuries were taken to MidHuson Regional in good condition.
"It's a tragedy, but the thing is lightning is dangerous and can be a killer and the last place that you want to be anywhere, but specifically in a park with multiple trees, is under one of those trees," said Rob Rolison, Mayor of Poughkeepsie.

"It's really a sad thing for Poughkeepsie," said Antoinette Longshore, a resident. "Send out my prayers to all of their family, I just want to pray that they make it."

Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed this incident to call the City of Poughkeepsie Police at 845-451-7577.
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