"The policy of the GUHSD in thunder/lightning storm conditions would be to immediately seek safe shelter at the first sound of thunder." -- Larry Pear, Grossmont Union High School District
ECM Special Report
Story by Miriam Raftery, photos by Dennis Richardson
July 16, 2010 (Lakeside)—While lightning strikes caused multiple fires in East County including Lakeside, El Capitan’s football team continued practicing on an open field during a thunderstorm in direct violation of district rules.
“There was thunder and lightning in the immediate area striking the ground...during the time the kids were practicing,” ECM photographer Dennis Richardson reports. “As I was shooting pictures of the players [from a hill nearby], a man who was watching the lightning storm from the safety of his home near me told me he had just seen a bolt of lightning hit a power pole near Wildcat Canyon and Willow Road.” That’s about half a mile from the football practice, he estimated.
Playing sports during a thunderstorm can be deadly. In 2008, all eleven players on a football team in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were killed when lightning struck the field.