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Jun 28, 2014

Fan hospitalized after lightning strike

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- An off-duty firefighter went into cardiac arrest after a lightning strike in the Columbus Crew's stadium parking lot Saturday night. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition, and the Major League Soccer team postponed its game against FC Dallas.

Firefighters said there was a lightning strike outside of stadium, but it's not known whether the off-duty lieutenant was struck directly, Columbus Fire Department Battalion Chief Tracy Smith said.

She said he had to be resuscitated and was in critical condition in the intensive care unit at the Ohio State Medical Center. Smith said it takes between two and three days to determine the total effects of a possible lightning strike.

Callers reported the lightning strike to emergency officials around 8 p.m. local time, just before the Crew's scheduled start against Dallas.

"To all -- we are sincerely sorry about tonight's postponement, but your safety is of the utmost importance," Crew owner Anthony Precourt said on Twitter. "We'll share more info as we can, but a member of our community was severely injured by the weather. Praying for him."

The Crew later said the match was postponed due to the "extenuating circumstances." The game was rescheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday. The National Weather Service forecast more showers and thunderstorms Sunday but said they are likely to occur mainly after 5 p.m. Tickets from Saturday's game will be honored Sunday.

The game was scheduled to start at 8 p.m. The storm with heavy rain and lightning bursts rolled through about 15 minutes before kickoff. Fans were told to evacuate the stands and head toward the concourses of the double-decked stadium. The game was called at 9:12 p.m.

Crew fan Don Lewis told The Columbus Dispatch that he was taking cover during heavy rain in a portable toilet when he felt electricity run through the air and then heard someone in the toilet next to him call 911 to report that someone had been hit by lightning.

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

He said he saw a man lying on the ground when he got out of the toilet.

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

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