Lightning Leaves Two Students Numb

Thursday, April 24th 2008, 6:01 pm
By: News On 6

Two high school students say they're doing just fine after becoming numb during a lightning strike during a Wednesday night baseball game.  The News On 6's Jeffrey Smith reports now some parents say that baseball game should have been cancelled.

They played on, 10 minutes after severe lightning was first spotted during a game between Checotah and Hilldale.  Players were still on the field.  Fans were still in the bleachers.  The game was eventually called, but not before a few close calls.

Lightning streaked across the Muskogee sky and right in the middle of a high school playoff game.

"Like all around. Everywhere. There were vertical ones and horizontal ones," said Nicole Easley, who was injured.

The Checotah Hilldale game was called in the fourth inning.  But, some say the decision came too late.

"I hadn't seen it pushed this far before. I had not ever seen it pushed this far," said Ron Goad, a Checotah parent.

"It was lightning bad. Everybody was saying that the game shouldn't be going on because that's dangerous. And, they were saying that it was really bad lightning. And, I think it should have been called earlier," said Nicole Easley.

Nicole Easley was watching her brother play.  As she ran to the parking lot, lightning struck several cars.

"My arm, it felt like somebody was, like, squeezing it. And, you know how if your ankle or something is fixing to go to sleep, it tingles really bad? That's how my whole arm felt, like, forever last night," said Nicole Easley.

Easley and a friend both felt a shock that left them numb.

"Today it still kind of tingles, but not as bad. And, it hurt last night, but it doesn't hurt anymore," said Nicole Easley.

Hilldale officials refused a request from The News On 6 for an on-camera interview, but they say that umpires called the game about 10 minutes after lightning was spotted.  Some fans and parents say those 10 minutes can be crucial.  Hilldale says they conferred with the ump and he said it was fine to continue.

"There were parents making noise about it, why haven't they called it?   It's getting unsafe," said Ron Goad.

Easley says her experience proves how dangerous lightning can be.

"I've grown up around baseball, and they've always called it as soon as it starts lightning, but they didn't last night, and I don't know why, said Nicole Easley.

The Oklahoma School Activities Association, which governs high school sports, has something called the 20-20 rule.  You have to stop play for 20 minutes and wait when you see lightning.  Hilldale followed that rule by twice delaying the game.

But, some parents say you didn't need 20 minutes to see that the game needed to be called.  Hilldale and Checotah's playoff game has been rescheduled for Friday night.