Man struck by lightning in serious condition
James Koole was watching baseball on television Sunday afternoon when his game was suddenly interrupted by a loud crack of thunder.
“We had heard a terrific bang,” Koole said. “It was just a single boom and a bright light.”
Koole ran to his back window and peered out at a park behind his property — a schoolyard with two soccer posts, a baseball backstop, three metal exercise beams, a jungle gym and chain-link fence on three sides.
But there, in the middle of the grassy field, was a stocky man lying flat on his back with his arms splayed out on either side.
“I said to my wife, ‘Holy f---, someone got hit by lightning. Call 911,’ ” Koole recounted.
Police, a man in his 20s is now in serious condition after being struck by lightning at around 5 p.m. in the school yard of Blantyre Public School, near Victoria Park Ave. and Gerrard St.
He was rushed to Toronto East General hospital with life-threatening injuries and categorized at the most severe emergency response level, CTAS 1, according to EMS officials.
Karin Archer Myles, a spokesperson for the Toronto East General Hospital, said on Monday afternoon that the man “is still a patient and remains critically ill.”
Because of regulations protecting patient privacy and confidentiality, hospital officials would not release further details.
Koole said the man appeared to have been playing football with about five or six friends when the thunderstorm suddenly hit.
After calling 911, Koole went into his backyard and shouted that he had EMS on the phone. One man ran up from the field and told Koole his friend was breathing but unconscious.
“He was yelling ‘No, my God, no,’” he said. “He just sort of went down on his knees, his hands over his head.”
Koole said none of the men knew CPR and they were trying to turn their friend onto his side.
Within minutes, a police car came careening onto the field and circled around the spot where the man lay. A police officer ran out and began administering CPR under “absolute torrents of rain,” Koole said.
Seconds later, an ambulance also drove onto the field and, as a police officer continued CPR, began loading the man into the back. At that point, another man came dashing onto the field, Koole said.
“He ran to the back of the ambulance and looked in,” he said. “He just collapsed onto the field, sobbing.”
Just one hour after the lightning strike, the sun was shining again and the school yard was deserted.
A dark green truck was still parked behind the school, however, and at about 6: 30 p.m., a young man dressed in a white tank top and dark shorts walked onto the field.
Sucking on a cigarette, he circled around an imprint in the grass where the lightning strike victim had fallen.
“I’m just looking for his necklace,” he said, refusing to give his name. “I don’t know anything. I just got a call to come here and grab the truck.”
When asked how the man was doing, he responded “he’ll be fine.” He would not say how he knew the man but said he was on his way to the hospital.
For residents around Blantyre Public School, many expressed shock with what had happened in their neighbourhood.
Koole said he often goes jogging Sunday mornings and just earlier that day, his running instructor reminded him not to go outside if there was a thunderstorm.
“I was like, ‘Oh, come on, we run through the rain,’ ” Koole said. “That’s definitely not my feeling anymore.”
The lightning strike, he conceded, “gives you some respect for the weather.”
-- Jennifer Yang, Staff Reporter
With files from Fabiola Carletti