KES lightning victims recovering

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ST_p6main FILE lightningJHB Ihsaan Haffejee LIGHT SHOW: Lightning strikes over the Hillbrow Tower during one of Joburgs spectacular thunderstorms. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee

VUYO MKIZE

THE TWO King Edward VII School boys who have been in a critical condition since being struck by lightning will be taken off life support “soon”.

This is according to doctor Jon Ojilong Opolot, who treated them at Netcare Milpark Hospital after they were admitted on Tuesday afternoon.

“We cannot reveal the extent of their injuries to protect their patient privacy, but shortly we will get them off life support,” he said.

Six of the other pupils who were also hit have been discharged, while another was kept for observation, and was in a stable condition.

The nine are aged between 16 and 18.

ST p6sec kes lightning QUICK ACTION: Mike Russell, with his wife Bernadette, performed CPR on two pupils whose hearts had stopped. supplied

It is believed the boys, who were on the cricket first team, were pulling on the covers when lightning struck.

Yesterday, Gauteng MEC for Education Barbara Creecy and officials from the department visited the three boys still in hospital and also met the six who had been discharged.

“The main reason we came here was to express our solidarity with the pupils and parents, particularly those still in hospital. I am told the two boys who are in ICU are in a stable condition, and the third boy is fully conscious.

“Obviously, the parents are feeling quite shocked and are visibly shaken by this horrible incident,” Creecy said.

And, while the department has dispatched psychologists and counsellors to the school, the MEC added that an investigation was under way to ascertain the circumstances under which the incident had taken place.

“These kinds of things (investigations) don’t take too long, I’m sure in a month’s time we’ll have the outcome. We’ll be looking at things like: why the boys were on the field, what was taking place and the circumstances around it.

ST p6sec Lightning680 SUPPORT: Education MEC Barbara Creecy with Godfrey Ramaboea at Milpark Hospital yesterday. The boy was one of nine struck by lightning at King Edward VII High School in Joburg on Tuesday. Picture: Matthews Baloyi INLSA

“At this point, there’s no point in speculating,” she said.

The principal of the school, David Lovatt, said they were all “obviously disturbed and distressed” over the incident, but thanked the department and hospital for their support.

Creecy added they had intended to visit the 16-year-old Soweto girl – struck by lightning on Monday while walking home with three friends – at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.

However, according to her spokesman, Charles Phahlane, the MEC couldn’t do so as the girl’s parents weren’t available at the time to give permission for the visit.

Meanwhile, Professor Walter Kloeck, chairman of the Resuscitation Council of Southern Africa, said yesterday that the pupils were most likely hit by a “rebound strike” – where the lightning hits the ground first and then bounces up and hits a person.

Kloeck, chairman of the Resuscitation Council of Southern Africa, believes this because a direct strike is normally instantly fatal.

The lives of the two boys in critical condition were probably saved by

Mike Russell, who was leaving the school after his 14-year-old son’s game was cancelled because of the storm.

They had gone into cardiac arrest and he used CPR to resuscitate them.


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