GRAPELAND, Texas – About 40 players and coaches with the Grapeland High School (search) football team in East Texas were injured, two of them critically, when lightning struck near their practice field Tuesday evening, authorities said.
One of the critically injured students was flown by helicopter to East Texas Medical Center (search) in Tyler and the other was being transferred to Memorial Hermann Hospital (search) in Houston, ETMC hospital officials said.
Twenty-eight students ranging in age from 15-17 and two coaches were being treated at ETMC in nearby Crockett, hospital officials said. Their conditions ranged from good to critical, and they were complaining of soreness, abdominal pain and headaches.
Hospital spokeswoman Rebecca Berkley described it as "just severe pain all over their bodies."
Seven others in good condition were being kept overnight for observation at Palestine Regional Medical Center (search), said spokeswoman Lynn Scribner.
The lightning strike occurred about 5:30 p.m. as the Grapeland Sandies' practice was winding down, according to radio station KBHT, which frequently broadcasts games.
"This occurred just out of the blue, no warning. It's not like lightning was flashing and building up," Grapeland Police Chief Roger Dickey said. "It just caught everybody off guard and it had already hit before anybody knew it."
The District 21-2A school is 3-0 so far this season.
Grapeland is about 120 miles southeast of Dallas.