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Dozens Injured When Lightning Strikes at Family Reunion

July 18, 2005

Members of the Bell family and their friends were in for a shock when a lightning strike interrupted their family reunion.

Over 100 people gathered for a family reunion on the Bell family farm in northwestern, Pennsylvania, when a bolt of lightning hit a tree and traveled through the ground, jolting as many as 30 people, said local police and family member, Larry Bell, who had organized the event. People were thrown to the ground, dozens received injuries and a 12-year-old boy was knocked unconscious and had to be revived with CPR, officials said.

All but two people have been treated and released from various hospitals, Bell said.

David Rogan, the 12-year-old who was knocked unconscious, was in critical condition at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh , suffering from brain swelling, Bell said. Family members said that the young boy initially didn't have a pulse, so relatives performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

Also, family member Ann Bell was taken to Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, for treatment of burns to her neck and arms.

The event was the last reunion to be held on the Bell farm, located about 70 miles north of Pittsburgh, because the family plans to sell it.

Family members were participating in a talent show and other activities when it began to drizzle, said family friend, Andy Coon, who was at the reunion.

Some had gathered under pine and chestnut trees when the lightning struck, Larry Bell said.

"Everyone was in shock for what it seemed like a long time, but it was within seconds that we were running around helping people," Coon said. "A lot of us were on our knees, praying."

"They say lightning is rare, but this is very rare for lightning to come down on so many people and not kill anybody," Larry Bell said. "God was showing his strength."




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