ST. GEORGE - Two 17-year-old boys were flown to a Las Vegas hospital in critical condition after being struck by lightning while standing outside Snow Canyon High School on Tuesday.
The incident happened about 3 p.m. The teens were standing near a pine tree on the north side of the school when they were struck, said St. George Police Sgt. Craig Harding. The tree was unscathed, he said.
The boys, a junior and senior at the school, were knocked to the ground. A principal, two vice principals and a resource officer who was visiting from another school, started CPR and then carried the boys inside the building where they continued CPR for 4-5 minutes, said Brad Ferguson, a Washington County School District spokesperson.
Medical personnel arrived on scene and continued CPR on the boys later identified by Washington County school officials as Alex Lambson and Christopher "Dane" Zdunich. They were transported by ground ambulance to Dixie Regional Medical Center and later flown to the University Medical Center in Las Vegas where they were listed in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.
Friends of the injured teens showed up at the St. George hospital and a crisis team member from Washington County School District visited with those students. Officials said clergy members are staying in contact with the families of the victims and will notify school district officials if anything changes in the boys' conditions. "The principal will keep school officials and students informed," Ferguson said. Family members of Zdunich told the Deseret News they are praying for Dane's survival and recovery Tuesday night. "We have grave concern for his well being," said Joe Zdunich of St. George. "We're saying prayers for him."
The last fatal victim of a lightning strike was in 2005 when two Boy Scouts on a camping trip in Utah's Uintah Mountains were struck by lightning in a three-sided shelter tent. Scout leaders with CPR training were able to revive one of the victims, but the second one, 15-year-old Paul Ostler of Salt Lake, was pronounced dead on scene.
The most recent injury caused by lightning was a 12-year-old girl injured August 2010 during a football game. The lightning struck about 100 yards away but knocked her to the ground, leaving her with minor injuries.