Lightning Strikes 4 Illinois Campers
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Four leaders of a Rockford, Ill., Boy Scout group may be wishing they had taken their own advice, after being struck by lightning Wednesday afternoon (June 23) in Rock Island.
“The sirens went off. The radio with us, it went off. So we sent the boys up for protection and it just happened real quick,” said Jesse McDuell, a scout leader who was hit by lightning, according to WQAD-TV, Quad Cities.
About 5 p.m., a slew of dangerous storms closed in on the KOA campground where the scouts had been staying since Sunday.
With the seven boys in a restroom shelter, the four leaders grabbed onto the metal braces of an awning, trying to keep it from blowing away.
“I mean, it went from almost no wind to, ‘Oh my god!’ The awnings were coming off the ground and everything was shot,” said McDuell.
That move put him and the other leaders directly in harm’s way.
“We thought we were through it,” said McDuell. “Just about ready to let go and try to clean up a little bit when the next thing I know, there’s a flash of light.”
That flash of light left a hole in the ground just feet from the leaders.
Rock Island emergency crews examined the four people hit. One man was taken to the hospital, injured from the powerful jolt.
“It wasn’t a direct strike so they just felt the tingle. Some of them couldn’t close their hands and stuff like that. One guy had trouble hearing. He’s the one going to the hospital,” said Rock Island Fire Dept. Lt. Enyo Dwith.
After the storm passed, the group examined their tents and belongings for damage. The scouts, earning badges of courage in the face of Mother Nature’s wrath.
“Have to respect it,” said McDuell. “There ain’t a day goes by I don’t respect Mother Nature.”
The man’s injuries are not believed to be serious. No boy scouts were injured in the dangerous storms.