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Lightning Strike Injures 22 Beachgoers at Michigan Lake

July 6, 1994 GMT

POTTERVILLE, Mich. (AP) _ Lightning struck a lake at a popular park on Wednesday, injuring 22 people, one critically, as about 100 other people scrambled for safety.

″It hit the water and walked up the beach,″ said Theresa O’Dell, a sheriff’s spokeswoman.

None of the victims were in the water at the time the bolt hit, Sheriff Rick Wahl said.

Witnesses said there was little rain and no warning before the lightning strike.

Sharlon Bailes, 27, was airlifted to a hospital in Kalamazoo, where she was in critical condition and on life support. She suffered burns to the chest, O’Dell said.


Nine other people were taken to hospitals, and 12 others were treated at the scene, Wahl said. Conditions on all of the hospitalized victims were not immediately available.

Fox Park in Benton Township, about 30 miles southeast of Lansing, has a playground and picnic tables, and its manmade lake is popular with swimmers.

″It was so unexpected. We thought we had enough time after the thunder,″ said Raydean Goedert, who was on the beach with her children and several neighbors.

Goedert said she was wearing metal hair curlers, which she ripped out when she felt a small shock on her head.

″There was some thunder and then the sky fell. There was a huge crash and people were running everywhere,″ Park Supervisor Matt Snyder said.

It was in the high 80s and overcast on Wednesday, with only a sprinkling of rain.

″Not enough to get you wet. But there was thunder and lightning,″ Benton Township Clerk Martha Halsey.