COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Columbus Crew rescheduled their game against FC Dallas for Sunday afternoon as an off-duty firefighter remains hospitalized after going into cardiac arrest following a lightning strike that postponed Saturday’s game.
Firefighters said there was a lightning strike outside the Crew’s stadium Saturday, but it’s not known if the off-duty lieutenant was struck directly, said Columbus Fire Department Battalion Chief Tracy Smith.
She said the firefighter had to be resuscitated and he was in critical condition in the intensive care unit at the Ohio State Medical Center. Smith said that it takes between two and three days to determine the total effects of a possible lightning strike.
The game was rescheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday. The National Weather Service forecast more showers and thunderstorms Sunday, but said they are likely to occur mainly after 5 p.m.
Crew owner Anthony Precourt said on Twitter that team was sorry about the postponement, but that fan’s safety “is of the utmost importance.” Precourt also said he was praying for the injured firefighter. Tickets from Saturday’s game will be honored Sunday.
The storm with heavy rain and lightning bursts rolled through about 15 minutes before the scheduled 8 p.m. kickoff. Fans were told to evacuate the stands and head toward the concourses of the double-decked stadium.
Callers reported the lightning strike to emergency officials around 8 p.m.
Crew fan Don Lewis told The Columbus Dispatch that he was taking cover during heavy rain in a portable toilet when he said he felt electricity run through the air and then heard someone in the toilet next to him call 911 to report that someone had been hit by lightning.
“All of a sudden it was just a bomb that went off,” Lewis told the newspaper. “I knew it was close. The electricity ran through me.”
He said he saw a man lying on the ground when he got out of the toilet.
“He was purple and had his shirt ripped off,” Lewis said.