3 construction workers hospitalized after lightning strike in Clay County

Woman who called 911, started CPR recounts harrowing moments

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – Three people were hospitalized Thursday afternoon after a lightning strike in Middleburg, according to Clay County Fire Rescue.

It happened at a small apartment complex on Iris Street off County Road 218, west of Blanding Boulevard. Neighbors told News4Jax the three were doing construction on a roof.

Larry Mansfield, a neighbor, was at his home when the lightning struck.

“Sounded like a canon went off," he said.

According to Fire Rescue, only one worker was struck directly and went into cardiac arrest. That man was revived. He was taken to a hospital and was breathing on his own.

The other two workers were not directly hit but went to the hospital to be checked out for injuries and physical effects from being so close to the lightning.

Neighbor Theresa Mcavoy recounted the moments right before she called 911, saying she didn’t even realize it was raining when she heard a loud explosion, like a cannon going off.

That’s when she saw the roofer lying on his back and called 911.

“One of the workers was checking his pulse, and I said, ‘Does he have a pulse? Is he OK?’ And he’s going, ‘No.’ And so then I’m asking the operator, ‘Do you want me to try to start CPR on him?’ and she says, ‘Yes, please,’ so I got down on my knees.”

News4Jax obtained Mcavoy’s 911 call.

Mcavoy: “Do you want me to try and put air in his mouth?”

Dispatcher: "No, I do not want you to give him mouth to mouth. If he is not breathing, we need to start compressions. I’m going to guide you through that. Can you get him on his back? And if you’re able to, put me on speakerphone.”

Mcavoy: “Want me to keep pumping his chest?”

Dispatch: “OK ma’am, listen to me. You’ve got him on his back, take the heel of your hand, you’re going to put the other one on top of that, you’re going to press down hard and fast at least two inches in depth, allowing the chest to return back to its normal position. You’re going to do 100 compressions per minute. You’re not going to stop until someone takes over, OK?”

Mcavoy’s quick thinking got the roofers the help they needed in a matter of minutes, but she said it was difficult because it wasn’t clear the CPR was helping.

“It was very heart wrenching to be trying to save somebody and not see that it didn’t look like it was helping. And I’ve been up praying all night and crying all night and trying to find out if he’s OK. And due to privacy laws, I’m not allowed to know anything that’s going on," Mcavoy said.

While at the complex Friday, News4Jax spotted an OSHA inspector surveying the property.

Florida is considered the lightning strike capital of the U.S., according to the National Weather Service. It leads all 50 states for the number of strikes and deaths due to strikes.

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