Grandfather struck by lightning killed, 9 injured

September 8, 2012 5:55:48 AM PDT
A 71-year-old man was struck by lightning at Northern Valley Regional High School on Friday afternoon, according to Demarest Fire Department.

It was supposed to an enjoyable Friday afternoon for a grandfather who'd come to watch his granddaughter play soccer.

Instead, around 4:15 p.m. he was struck by lightning and he died at Hackensack Medical Center.

It came out of the sky, through the clouds with a vengeance, stripping the bark off a tree and impaling debris into the neatly trimmed playing fields at Northern Valley Regional High School.

It was a deadly bolt of lightning that killed a 71-year-old man from Haworth who had come to watch his granddaughter, a freshman, play soccer.

He was airlifted to Hackensack Medical Center after getting struck, but police tell Eyewitness News the helicopter had to land several miles away because it wasn't safe on school grounds.

"There were a hundred plus students who were evacuated into the south gym for safety purposes," said Chief James Powderly, Demarest Police Department.

"We did see the lightning. We saw it come down from the sky. It was a huge bolt. It was all over the place. So it not only had gotten here, but there was also lightning on the football field. That's why we ran upstairs because we didn't want to be in the line of fire," said Eli Nachmany, a student.

Nine students complained of tingling sensations and first responders rushed them to area hospitals to be evaluated.

This is the third lightning related death this summer.

In July, a 48-year-old woman was killed at a beach in Monmouth County when a line of fast moving storms blew through the area.

In August, a 41-year-old died after getting struck by lightning while fishing with his son in Long Branch.

Back at Northern Valley Regional High School, the first week back from summer recess has been marked by death and tragedy, particularly for those students who watched it unfold.

"We made sure that our crisis team is here to assess the situation," said Christopher Nagy, Superintendent.

Nagy said that on Saturday, counseling services will be provided for staff, students and families from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Demarest Auditorium. Additional counseling will also be provided on Monday, September 10th.

Investigators have not yet released the name of the man who died.

The police chief told Eyewitness News he was on the grounds when this storm was overhead.

He says it was so loud he thought something exploded.

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