(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) — Five New Mexico middle schoolers are recovering Wednesday after they were struck by lightning during football practice, authorities say. Four of the boys were hospitalized including one who is in critical condition after he was completely unresponsive at the scene as two parents worked to revive him.
The sudden and unexpected jolts shocked the 8th grade football team at Picacho Middle School in Las Cruces around 5 p.m. Tuesday, injuring the students along with assistant coach Arnie Castaneda.
One 13-year-old was immediately transported to Mountainview Regional Medical Center where he was later stabilized.
“He collapsed right away, and he was completely unresponsive,” Las Cruces Police Department spokesman Dan Trujillo told ABC News. According to Trujillo, the other boys were responsive and in stable condition.
Las Cruces Public School Director of Communications Jo Galvan told ABC News that the bolts hit a nearby tree and spread along the ground just as the team was retreating into the school because of the drizzle. Bystanders ran inside to alert the boy’s mother, who works at the school, Galvan said.
ABC News obtained the audio recording of a 911 call from a hysterical female witness. The phone was transferred to a more composed male witness who listens to the operator as she tells him to put the boy on his side.
“The boys were very scared,” Galvan said. “Of course coaches were yelling, there were two parents trying to help the boy. It was very emotional, very stressful, and very fearful.”
Two fathers are being called heroes after performing CPR on the unresponsive boy and can be heard in the recording trying to resuscitate him. “He’s coming back around but he’s not looking very alert,” one man says. “Come on, buddy! Please,” says another in the background.
The boy was transferred from Mountainview Regional Medical Center to the Trauma unit at El Paso Children’s Unit where he is reported to have begun breathing on his own as of Tuesday night. He remains in critical condition.
Galvan said that during monsoon season in New Mexico rapid downpours are expected so it was natural for the students to begin moving inside but they did not expect lightning.
A team of counselors and psychologists have spent the day at Picacho Middle School. Students and staff members were meeting with counselors Wednesday, officials said.
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