Lightning strike injures 5 Gettysburg reenactors, 3 hospitalized; 3 tents damaged

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — A lightning strike at a camp of Civil War reenactors in Gettysburg, Pa., has sent five people to hospitals.

The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee says in a statement that during a severe thunderstorm at about 2:45 a.m. Sunday, lightning struck a tent pole in the Confederate artillery camp, resulting in moderate injuries to two people and minor injuries to three others.

The five were taken to Gettysburg Hospital. One is in stable condition. Two others in stable condition were treated and transferred to York Hospital. Two others were treated and released.

Reenactment officials say a tent-by-tent search of the site by staff and local fire departments turned up no other injuries. They say three small tents were damaged.

UPDATE: Tim Prudent for Public Opinion Online wrote this story on the injured people from the lightning strike incident. It was originally published on July 6, 2011.

Civil War re-enactors struck by lightning near Gettysburg

GETTYSBURG — The sense of hearing is beginning to return to Marisue Morgan’s right ear and the painful burn on her left arm — where her sweater melted into her skin — is beginning to subside.Morgan said Monday she felt lucky to return home after a lightning strike the day before at the annual Civil War re-enactment in Gettysburg sent five members of her artillery battery to area hospitals.

“The flash was right in front of my face and it was about 10 times the loudness of cannon fire,” said the 45-year-old Morgan, who lives outside Pittsburgh. “The flash was the brightest white light and I felt my arm burning. I ran out of the tent to see if the people next to us were all right because all I could hear was screaming.”

She suffered second-degree burns and her 11-year-old son Ben and 61-year-old husband Randy were also hospitalized after the strike, which occurred during a violent thunderstorm early Sunday morning around 2:45 a.m.

As a result of the strike, Randy has three burns on his hand where it is believed the electricity left his body. Ben was uninjured and taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure, Marisue said.

Erich Griffey and his wife, Lucilia were camped nearby and also burned in the strike. Erich, 28, suffered first-degree burns on an arm and across his chest. Lucilia, who is six months pregnant, was burned on her back.

“I told him we were struck by lightning,” the 30-year-old Lucilia said Monday evening. “All I wanted was ice to cool the burning I felt all over my skin.”

A sonogram and stress test performed by doctors found their baby to be uninjured, said Erich’s mother, Cathy Griffey.

The couple has been re-enacting for the past six to eight years, Lucilia said, and go to events at least once a month.

But lying in the hospital, she said, she kept having nightmares.

“I don’t think I can sleep in a tent again,” she said. “This is the last event until the baby is born.”

About civilwarweek

Member - Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force, Civil War reenactor and historian since 1993, holds Bachelor's Degree in History from Concordia University-St. Paul, currently pursuing Master's Degree in History at St. Cloud State University and is author of the forthcoming book, "Muskets and Memories: A Modern Man's Journey through the Civil War."
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