Seymour strike serves lesson of lightning from "out of the blue"

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Blue skies overhead doesn't mean there's no risk of lightning.

Students playing ball on the Ball State University campus Friday thought there was no chance of a lightning bolt striking them at that moment. But a "bolt from the blue" could strike.

"That's crazy," some students said.

"They're not particularly common. Lightning bolts can strike 25 miles ahead of the storm," said WTHR Severe Weather Specialist Dr. David Call, a Ball State professor.

It happened at Seymour High School's softball field Thursday. There was no sign of a storm, but lightning struck freshman Emily Bobb.

"Lightning strike knocked her to the ground, they began CPR immediately," said School Superintendent Dr. Teran Armstrong.

Bobb was helped by a doctor across the street who saw the strike happen and climbed a fence to help her.

"She was not breathing when I go there. She turned blue, her heartbeat was very, very shallow," said Dr. Levi Nehrt.

Bobb is listed in good condition at Riley Hospital. Three of her teammates felt tingling.

In 1999, it happened to a man in Carmel, who was hit by lightning kicking the ball around on the lawn, with no severe storms in the area.

But why?

"The top of the storm starts to roll in overhead very quietly because it's not raining yet and, all of a sudden, it sends lightning bolts from the blue sky," said Dr. Call.

Seymour school officials say no rules were broken. Like other schools, it has a policy to take cover at the first sign of lightning.

"The safety measures we give work in most circumstances, but once in awhile, you just have bad luck," Dr. Call said.

WeatherBug sent images to Eyewitness News Meteorologist Chris Wright, showing the first two lightning pulses recorded seven miles from Seymour High School. The lightning was still up in the clouds at that point.

But 15 minutes later, Emily Bobb was hit by a cloud-to-ground bolt. WeatherBug says the cloud-to-cloud detectors might give organizations like schools and athletic teams better advance notice of active, but unseen, lightning riding far ahead of the storm.

NOAA lightning safety