Lightning strike man named as his hospital fight continues

PACEMAKER BELFAST   07/06/2016  FB
Lisburn man George Allen who was struck by lightnening while walking his kids home from Killowen primary school this afternoon.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 07/06/2016 FB Lisburn man George Allen who was struck by lightnening while walking his kids home from Killowen primary school this afternoon.

A community was last night reeling from the “unbelievable” horror of a lightning strike on three members of the same family.

Local sources have named the injured parent as George ‘Geordie’ Allen, son of George Allen Snr, from Lisburn.

The scene of the incident on Tuesday afternoon

The scene of the incident on Tuesday afternoon

It was understood that he was shepherding his children towards a car at the time.

At time of writing it is understood he is in a critical condition after being transferred from Lagan Valley hospital to the Ulster in Belfast.

Two children of his remain in hospital.

One is a boy, believed to be aged five, whose condition is described as critical.

Meanwhile the condition of a girl, believed to be seven, has improved from “seriously ill” to “stable”.

They are both in the Royal Victoria Hospital’s children’s section.

For more on the incident, see here: DEFIBRILLATOR USED ON LIGHTNING STRIKE MAN.

Former DUP Lagan Valley MLA Jonathan Craig has been on the school’s board for 14 years, and spoke to some direct eyewitnesses.

“At two o’clock, some of the younger children in school were leaving,” he said.

“The father went, was picking his two children up, and it started to rain heavily.

“Taking them in each hand, [he was] running across the car park to get back to his own car.”

He said that then “a bolt of lightning hit him – obviously because he was holding his children, they were all impacted”.

The strike occurred in “a car park full of parents doing the exact same thing, so you can imagine the scene that then started to unfold – pretty horrendous”.

He added: “People are deeply, deeply shocked and traumatised by what has happened.”

Mr Craig continued: “You just don’t expect something like this to happen, and for three members of one family to be affected in one incident is just unbelievable.”

He said that the vice-principal had made use of a defibrillator which had been installed in the school.

“It’s one of those things we brought into the school and just hoped and prayed it’d never be needed,” he said. “Lo and behold, here we are.”

The school will be closed throughout Wednesday.

Pat Catney, SDLP Lisburn councillor, lives about a mile-and-a-half from the school, and made his way to the scene soon after the news broke.

He told the News Letter: “There was heavy rain, remember, at the time.

“There was still the odd roar of thunder in the skies. It was dark – the clouds seemed to have closed in on the place.”

He witnessed people including schoolteachers “trying to work on the injured” at the scene.

“I noticed too mothers and fathers trying to help with diverting the traffic down,” he said.

“It was terrible to witness, but at the same time I feel very proud of the community, they way they seemed to have rallied round there...

“I have to commend the quick response of the teachers. Just the amount of help and amount of concern.

“There was shock [and] the school was very good in trying to shepherd the children away from the tragedy.

“But it’s one of those things – just a real freak storm, a freak violent storm out of the blue.”

Words of sympathy and encouragement surfaced on the internet on Tuesday night from friends and family of the Allens.

One friend of Mr Allen’s, Stuart Thompson, wrote: “After today’s event, just makes us all realise what we have, as you really never know the moment. I know I will be kissing my kids tonight a lot more than normal.”

UUP Lagan Valley MLA Robbie Butler, a former fireman, expressed his sympathies, and also offered some practical advice.

He advised unplugging non-essential electronic devices before a storm due to the risk of power surges.

During the event, he advised not using the phone or taps, since these can conduct electricity.

If outside, “avoid water and find a low-lying open place that is a safe distance from trees, poles or metal objects”.