Wild lightning strike injures public worker at Woodbridge, NJ soccer field
⚡ Lightning struck a Woodbridge township employee Wednesday
⚡ Luckily, a cop trained in CPR was around the corner and began chest compressions
⚡ A lightning bolt contains 300 million volts on average
WOODBRIDGE — A public works employee is lucky to be alive after being struck by lightning at a middle school soccer field on Wednesday.
Eric Baumgartner, 39, was lining the practice soccer field at Iselin Middle School shortly after 12:15 p.m. Wednesday when a lightning bolt went through his body, according to Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac. The National Weather Service says a typical lightning flash is about 300 million volts.
Baumgartner has been a township employee for 18 years. His coworker, who was also at the field, immediately called the police. McCormac said a cop who was already on his way from the nearby high school to Iselin responded to the call "very quickly."
Fortunately for Baumgartner, the responding officer was an EMT trained in CPR and first aid thanks to his years as a firefighter before joining the police department.
Officer Robert "RJ" McPartland was in the right place at the right time. The cop said Baumgartner had no pulse and burns on his hands. McPartland immediately began compressions. Other first responders arrived soon after and took Baumgartner to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital.
"He is alert and aware. He's been talking, so that's very, very good news," McCormac said. "I have every reason to believe RJ McPartland saved Eric Baumgartner's life. And I can't be prouder of the job our police officers do."
Officer McPartland said he's known Baumgartner through the township for years.
"Hearing that he's doing well, that he's awake right now, is definitely a good feeling," McPartland said. "I'm just happy that I was close and able to get to him."
New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said that radar showed a thunderstorm cell over Woodbridge around 12:30 p.m. He said everyone should take precautions when thunder rolls overhead.
"By definition, every thunderstorm contains lightning," Zarrow said. "Therefore, by definition, every thunderstorm is potentially dangerous. That's why we follow the motto, 'When Thunder Roars, Head Indoors.'"