Monday, August 27, 2001

Lightning hurts 4 at Lunken Airfest

By Emily Biuso
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Four spectators seeking shelter from a Sunday storm during a Lunken Airport airshow were injured when lightning struck.

        The three men and one woman sought shelter underneath a CH-47 Chinook Marine Corps medical helicopter during the 4 p.m. rainstorm.

        The Lunken Airfest had been suspended because of bad weather, and officials were evacuating spectators when the lightning struck .

        Because the four did not suffer burns, Dr. Don Duke, medical adviser for Lunken Airport, said he did not believe they were directly hit by the lightning. The victims' names were not released.

        A man transported to University Hospital was conscious and did not know what had happened, Dr. Duke said. Hospital officials said he was in fair condition Sunday night but they did not know whether he would be admitted.

        The other three were treated at the airfield, Dr. Duke said.

        No bystanders reported seeing lightning hit the four spectators, said Larry Neltner, chairman of the air show.

        “Everyone that was there said they saw the hair standing up on their arms, which is very indicative of lightning striking,” he said.

        In a stroke of luck, the helicopter under which the victims were standing had medical personnel aboard. Paramedics from that helicopter, which is based in Cherry Point, N.C., treated the victims while local emergency personnel were en route.

        The benefit show was canceled after the lightning incident. The show, which features demonstration flights and spectator rides, is run by volunteers to raise money for capital improvements at the airport. Dr. Duke said that this was the first incident of its kind in the event's four-year history.

        The storm also left 1,500 to 1,800 Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. customers without power for a short time. Mostoutages occurred on the east side of Cincinnati in the Mount Washington area, CG&E spokesman Dave Woodburn said.


        William A. Weathers contributed to this report.



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