There’s a reason why they don’t allow teams to play or practice in a thunderstorm. On Tuesday, one New Mexico middle school found that out in a tragic way.
As reported by the Las Crucas Sun-News, Albuquerque TV network KOB, and New Mexico ABC affiliate KVIA, among other outlets, five football players and a coach from the Picacho Middle School football team were seriously injured when a freak thunderstom set down on the Las Crucas school’s football field during an afternoon practice. An acute lightning strike hit a nearby tree, became grounded left Picacho football player Hunter Keffer in critical condition and also injured four of his teammates.
Keffer was rushed to the emergency burn unit at El Paso’s University Medical Center, while two of his teammates remain hospitalized in Las Crucas. Another was initially hospitalized and released while the fifth refused any medical treatment.
As for the unnamed coach, he also refused transport to a hospital after being treated at the scene.
The hardest part for team members and Las Crucas school officials to accept is that the coaches were doing the right thing when tragedy struck. The team was heading inside after coaches cancelled practice just as an initial drizzle began to fall.
While Keffer had to receive CPR at the scene, he had reportedly been stabilized at University Medical Center. There’s no word on the team’s plans to return to action, and grief counselors will be on the Las Crucas campus to help students upset at the injuries that befell their classmates.