A man was struck by lightning on a New Jersey soccer field, and officials credited a police officer with saving his life. Eric Baumgartner, 39, wanted to finish painting the lines on the field in Woodbridge Township before it started raining when the bolt of lightning hit him Wednesday afternoon, CBS New York.
Video footage from a resident’s security camera shows the lightning bolt flashing down from a dark sky followed by a crack of thunder.
“It was like a bomb,” Jay Heday, who lives near the field, told CBS New York. “Then I look out the window. The guy’s right in the middle. He went down.”
Officer R.J. McPartland was leaving his shift at a nearby high school when the lightning struck.
“I was in my car, and I did see a very large lightning strike, and, you know, I said to myself, ‘Wow, that seemed really close,'” he told reporters during a news conference.
He responded to the field and started administering CPR.
“We were able to see, you know, some burn marks appeared on his hands, so that’s how we were kind of able to determine what happened, and we knew that he just needed to, you know, start compressions to get his heart going again,” McPartland said.
Baumgartner, a father of two boys who’s been working for the town for 18 years, slowly regained consciousness as an ambulance rushed him to a hospital, McPartland said.
“We were trying to talk to him the whole time,” the officer said.
One of Baumgartner’s friends told CBS New York the Coast Guard veteran didn’t have any memory of being hit by the lightning bolt.
“He remembers doing his job and then remembers waking up in the ambulance, had no idea what happened,” Ray Deliman, acting commander of American Legion Post 87, told the station.
He’s heard of people surviving lightning strikes before and hoped Baumgartner recovers from the ordeal.
“You never know until it’s your turn,” Deliman said. “We just hope he pulls through because we need him here … He’s a good guy.”
About 20 people are killed in lightning strikes across the country each year, while hundreds more are injured, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.