10 Struck by Lightning at Soccer Game

On average, 62 Americans are fatally struck every year. Find out how to be safe.

ByABC News
October 3, 2008, 8:13 PM

July 21, 2008 — -- It may seem as if some Zeus-like creature is hurling real thunderbolts these days. At least 17 people have been struck by lightning so far this month, and seven of those people have died.

The latest incident occurred about 3:30 p.m. Sunday, when 10 people abandoned a soccer game in Dorchester, Mass., and huddled beneath a tall tree to escape the rain.

When lightning struck the tree moments later, all 10 collapsed to the ground.

"You could see the light coming from the top and going down to the floor and that's it," said Bianca Diray, who saw the strike. "The people didn't have time to scream. They went down to the floor. Everybody went down to the floor."

All 10 survived the lightning bolt, but one person suffered a cardiac arrest and seven remain hospitalized.

"I've never seen in 35 years of experience 10 people struck by one instance of lightning. It's very often an overlooked threat," Boston EMS Chief Rich Serino told ABCNews.com.

Just days before Sunday's lightning strike, two people were killed in Maine when they stepped out of their house during a thunderstorm.

On July 3, a 16-year-old was killed by lightning while riding a bicycle at a Colorado summer camp. Three more teenagers and a young woman were killed the following week after being struck. Those deaths occurred in North Carolina, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Virginia.

People who are struck by lightning can experience a wide range of injuries, from burns and heart attacks to damage to internal organs, Serino said.

"You tend to see people with numbness to extremities. It's a pretty common injury to have in an electrical storm," he said.

According to the National Weather Service, the United States averages about 62 lightning deaths a year, and incidences of lightning strikes ramp up during the summer, Serino said.