An 11-year-old schoolboy was in hospital today after being struck by lightning outside his school.
Joe Compton was waiting in the car park for his nan to pick him up when the bolt hit a lamp post he was standing next to.
He immediately went into cardiac arrest and first aiders from a neighbouring sports centre rushed to administer CPR until paramedics arrived six minutes later.
Joe was rushed to Great Western Hospital in Swindon, Wilts., with severe burns and “potentially life-threatening injuries”. He was later transferred to a specialist burns unit at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol.
Joe’s family today praised first aiders who came to his rescue.
In a statement issued from his bedside at Frenchay Hospital, they said: “We would like to thank everyone for their support.
“We would particularly like to express our gratitude to the PE staff and leisure centre staff who came to Joe’s aid, we owe a huge amount of thanks to them.
“We would also like to ask media to be left alone at this time so that we can focus our energies on supporting Joe.”
The incident happened at 3.10pm on Wednesday at Dorcan Academy in Swindon, Wilts., where Joe had been a pupil for just three weeks.
Yesterday the school’s headteacher Scott Sissons described how the lightning bolt ‘shook the whole school’.
He said: “It was very odd, it had just started raining and before school finished and there was no hint of thunder.
“Then all of a sudden there was a phenomenal bang and a lightning flash all at the same time.
“It was quite shocking and the whole of the school shook.
“After recovering from the shock I realised there were staff running to the corner and I could clearly see them giving someone CPR.
“I rang 999 straight away and then ran out to see what was going on.
“There were three or four staff from the leisure centre out there, they were administering CPR and there was defibrillator next to them as well.
“It didn’t look like he was breathing to me at that point, but I’m not a medical professional.
“The ambulance arrived a few minutes later and they got his heart going before they took him to the emergency department.
“It can only have taken about 30 minutes from when I called them.”
He added that, luckily, few children witnessed the incident.
“There were very few children around the car park waiting to be picked up by their parents, only about three or four,” he said.
“The whole school has been very sensible about it, we’ve spoken to them about what happened and they know it was a freak accident.
English teacher Pippa Smith, 24, said the clash of thunder made her and a fellow teacher scream in shock.
She said: “It was very loud and sounded like it was right over head, when the thunder came myself and another teacher just screamed.
“It was very loud and very scary. There was a really bright light and then the bang. It only struck once.”
An eyewitness added: “A Year Seven boy was waiting in the car park to get collected. He was standing next to a lamp post when the bolt struck it and him too.
“Staff from Dorcan Recreation Centre and a parent performed CPR and he was taken to hospital with burns.”
A spokesman for Great Western Ambulance Service said: “We received a 999 call from the school regarding a pupil, believed to be an 11-year-old boy, reportedly being struck by lightning.
“We had a paramedic on the scene at 3.16pm, backed up by an ambulance crew a few minutes later.
“There were first aiders from the school performing CPR as the boy had gone into a cardiac arrest.
“Our crews took over on arrival and they had a return of spontaneous circulation. We took the boy to Great Western Hospital and arrived at 3.34pm.
“He suffered potentially life threatening injuries from the electrocution.”
The spokesman praised staff at Dorcan Recreation Centre and school first aiders who came to his rescue.
“In terms of our response he was in hospital conscious and breathing again within 24 minutes,” he said.
“The first aiders on the scene did a very good job.”
Joe was said to be “breathing and conscious” when he arrived at Great Western Hospital but the extent of his internal damage is not yet known.
He was transferred to the major trauma centre at Frenchay on Wednesday night after his condition stabilised.
Well-wishers flooded Twitter with messages of support for Joe, who was in class 7Y1.
Helen Toms tweeted: “Thoughts go out to the family of Joe Compton who got hit by lightening today. And to 7Y1 who will be worried about him. Get well soon Joe xx.”
Shannon Deacon wrote: “Aww I feel so sorry for Joe Compton, got struck by lightening as he was leaving school. He’s in hospital and he’s breathing. Hope he’s ok”
Summer-Paige Roberts posted: “My heart goes out to Joe Compton for getting struck by lightening, must have been horrible. Your gunna pull through little soldier.”
The large school, which specialises in technology for pupils aged 11-16, is situated next to a busy sports centre, but none of the users had witnessed the lightening strike.