FHSU students jolted by nearby lightning strike but escape serious harm

Three Fort Hays State University students narrowly escaped serious injury when lightning struck a nearby tree during a violent thunderstorm that rolled through Hays Wednesday evening.

The three students -- Caitlin Dunwell, a Louisville, CO, freshman; Sherry Alatassi, a Topeka freshman; and Rose Gillenwater, a Topeka freshman -- had just eaten dinner at the Memorial Union and were walking back to McMindes Hall. They stepped from the south end of Jellison Bridge at about 6:20 p.m. when the lightning struck a tree about 20 feet away. They felt the jolt of electricity but were able to walk on to their residence hall.

An ambulance was called but the three students refused treatment, said Sid Carlile, chief of University Police. Later, two of the students elected to go to Hays Medical Center by private vehicle, where they were treated and then released, he said.

Carlile said that 14 or 15 vehicles on campus received damage from falling tree limbs or gravel blowing from the roofs of buildings. As of 8:30 a.m. Thursday, he was not aware of any other damage on the campus from the storm.

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Office of University Relations   |  600 Park Street   |  Hays, KS  67601-4099
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Kent Steward, Director   |  ksteward@fhsu.edu  |  Kurt Beyers, Assistant Director   |  kbeyers@fhsu.edu