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Officials: Woodbridge worker struck by lightning at Iselin Middle School in stable condition

Officials say that the lightning bolt entered Eric Baumgartner’s body through his right foot. His heart stopped beating right after.

Matt Trapani and Chris Keating

Jun 15, 2023, 8:43 PM

Updated 374 days ago


News 12 New Jersey is learning more about a Woodbridge employee who was struck by lightning on Wednesday and the efforts to save him.
Erick Baumgartner works for the Woodbridge Department of Public Works. He is currently in stable condition at the hospital. News 12 is told that he is alert and able to speak. He is being treated for burns on his feet and lower torso.
Officials say that the lightning bolt entered Baumgartner’s body through his right foot. His heart stopped beating right after.
The incident happened around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday while Baumgartner was painting lines on the school’s soccer field.
Police Officer R.J. McPartland happened to be nearby.
"I was in my car, and I did see a very large lightning strike and I said to myself, ‘Wow, that seems really close,’" McPartland says. "I was on my way to the middle school for their dismissal when I saw the call come in on our computer."
McPartland was by Baumgartner's side within moments of the strike. When he got to him, he says Baumgartner was still holding the paint machine.
"I saw Eric out on the field. I immediately ran up to him, checked for a pulse, realized he didn't have a pulse and began CPR,” McPartland says.
McPartland's compressions brought Baumgartner back to life by the time he was placed in an ambulance.
Officials say that Iselin Middle School does not have a lightning detector directly serving the practice field. There is one right next door at the football field belonging to John F. Kennedy Memorial High School that was working. A Woodbridge spokesperson tells News 12 that the storm was so quick that the detector did not register before the lightning actually hit the ground.
Woodbridge DPW Director George Brew was in the ambulance with Baumgartner as he was rushed to the hospital.
"Just an overall great guy out here doing his job trying to get this field ready before the rain,” says Brew.
Woodbridge police officials also credited McPartland for saving Baumgartner’s life.
"I don't think there is a higher honor than knowing that you saved somebody's life, so great job by our officers,” says Woodbridge Police Director Robert Huber.
McPartland has been a police officer for four years. Before that, he was an EMT. When asked about this incident he said it is what he was trained to do.

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