Three victims remained in critical condition Friday night after five people were struck by lightning in the City of Poughkeepsie.
The rarity of being struck by lightning was made even more unlikely with five people being hurt with one strike.
The three victims were at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in the intensive care unit as of 8 p.m. Friday, according to Tim Massie, senior vice president at Health Quest, which operates Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie. The other two victims, with less severe injuries, were taken to MidHudson Regional Hospital of Westchester Medical Center, which declined to comment on the condition of the patients due to hospital regulations.
The fast-moving thunderstorm moved though the region Friday afternoon. The “core” of the storm had passed over the northern part of the city, according to Ingrid Amberger, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany.
Five people were standing by or sitting on a park bench near a tree on the northern side of Mansion Square Park at around 4 p.m., when the stormed struck, City of Poughkeepsie Police said.
Lightning struck the tree, traveling down it and into the ground, shocking the five unidentified victims, Massie said. The three victims at Vassar Brothers were unresponsive at the park and were described as having life-threatening injuries.
The victims ranged in age from 46 to 55, police said.
City police are investigating the incident. Witnesses are asked to call the City of Poughkeepsie Police at 845-451-7577.
City of Poughkeepsie Police, City of Poughkeepsie Fire Department, Fairview Fire District, Arlington Fire District and Mobile Life Support Services responded to the scene, Mayor Rob Rolison said.
The chance of being struck by lightning is 1 in 960,000, according to the National Weather Service. In 2016, 25 people were struck and killed by lightning across the U.S., Amberger said.
Lightning strikes generally impact one or two people. It is rare for a group to be injured, said Meteorologist Brian Frugis, with the National Weather Service.
“It’s pretty unusual,” Frugis said. “It’s usually a much smaller group.”
Earlier this week, Richard Garlock, 34, and Jenea Macleod, 32, were found dead in Batavia, Genesee County, due to a lightning strike, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Beware of lightning
Thunderstorms are also in the forecast for Poughkeepsie this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
Saturday will reach a high of about 94 degrees with a heat index of 107 degrees, accompanied by a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms after 7 a.m. and accumulation up to a quarter inch. Saturday night will dip to a low of 75 degree, with a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms before 1 a.m.
Sunday will see a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Temperatures will hit a high of 92 degrees and a heat index of 103 degrees.
Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. reported outages affecting about 2,300 people following the storm, with the highest impact in Town of Poughkeepsie, Pleasant Valley and Fishkill, according to John Maserjian, spokesperson for Central Hudson. At 7:30 p.m., only 173 were affected by outages in Dutchess County.