Off-Duty Ohio Firefighter Struck by Lightning, Critical

A 54-year-old Columbus fire lieutenant was struck by lightning just before the start of a soccer game and was unresponsive at the scene.


June 29--An off-duty Columbus fire lieutenant was in critical condition after being struck by lightning in the parking lot of Crew Stadium before Saturday night's scheduled game against FC Dallas.

With heavy storms moving through the area shortly before the scheduled 8 p.m. kickoff, a bolt of lightning struck near the southwest corner of the stadium.

Several eyewitnesses said that it hit Stu Tudor, 54, who was unresponsive but had a pulse when emergency crews arrived. He was revived as medical crews performed CPR and was transported to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

The game never started, and it was postponed until 2 p.m. Sunday.

"We are sincerely sorry about tonight's postponement, but your safety is of the utmost importance," Crew investor-operator Anthony Precourt wrote on Twitter. "We will share more information as we can, but a member of our community was severely injured by the weather. Praying for him."

In a statement, the Crew said, "First responders were called to Crew Stadium to address an incident surrounding the inclement weather that delayed tonight's contest. Due to these extenuating circumstances, the match was postponed."

Crew fan Don Lewis was taking cover during the heavy rain in one of three portable toilets on the southwest side of the Stadium when he said he felt electricity run through the air.

"All of a sudden, it was just a bomb that went off," Lewis said. "I knew it was close. The electricity ran through me."

A moment later, he said, a man in the toilet next to him called 911 and said that someone had been struck by lightning. Lewis said he opened the door and saw a man lying on the ground.

"He was purple and had his shirt ripped off," he said.

Emergency medical personnel arrived about two minutes after the lightning strike, several eyewitnesses said, and were there for about 10 minutes. It seemed to be the first bolt of lightning in the vicinity and, after it struck, fans were told to seek shelter inside the concourse until the storm passed.

The game was officially postponed at 9:12 p.m., when the Crew posted on Twitter that it had been postponed "due to extenuating circumstances," while an announcement over the stadium's public-address system said it was for "reasons out of our control."

The team announced that parking for Sunday's game will be free and gates will open at 12:30 p.m. All tickets for Saturday's game will be honored.

Fans unable to attend the rescheduled date can exchange their ticket for one of three games: July 16 against Sporting Kansas City, September 7 against Chivas USA and September 27 against Montreal.

This is the only meeting between the Crew and Dallas this season. The Crew will play Friday at Colorado and has a game scheduled during every weekend for the rest of the season.

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy

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