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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)
He had just finished, of all things, a charity soccer game to raise money for fallen or injured police officers and firefighters.
Stu Tudor, a 54-year-old Columbus fire lieutenant with more than two decades in the division, headed into the parking lot at Crew Stadium on Saturday night. Some think he was getting ready to leave. He paused at a portable toilet, and that's where time, nature and misfortune collided in the most unthinkable of ways.
One witness said it was like a bomb. The lightning bolt lanced from the sky and apparently struck Tudor in the shoulder, ripping through his body and seizing his heart.
Firefighters at the stadium heard the call: Lightning strike. Cardiac arrest. Within 15 minutes, Columbus Fire Fighters Union President Jack Reall said, they learned the victim was one of their own.
Tudor remained in critical condition Sunday in Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. Reall said Tudor was in a medically induced coma and that the extent of his injuries would be clearer as his body temperature, kept low for 72 hours, was increased. Tudor's right leg, where the lightning is believed to have exited, was being treated for swelling, Reall said.
"The fact that he's still alive is encouraging," given the severity of that initial call, he said. "We're trying to make sure that we take care of him the best we can. ... Hopefully, we can get him back on the road to recovery."
Reall said firefighters are standing watch at the hospital around the clock, hoping for the best in the crucial next 36 hours.
Tudor, who joined the Division of Fire in August 1991, had gone to the soccer stadium on Saturday afternoon for a charity soccer game benefiting Get Behind the Badge, an organization established in 2001 after the shooting death of Whitehall Police Officer Terry McDowell. The group offers financial assistance to the families of police officers and firefighters killed or critically wounded.
Tudor had updated his Facebook page during the day. One photo showed him in front of a soccer net, the ball tucked under one arm. "New USA world cup goalie," he wrote.
Lightning struck after the charity game, just before the scheduled 8 p.m. start of the Crew game. Officials postponed the Crew game until 2 p.m. yesterday.
Inside the stadium yesterday, fans and the team paid tribute to the injured man. Crew coach Gregg Berhalter wore a red ribbon on his shirt. The public-address announcer read a statement from the Crew wishing Tudor a speedy recovery. Fans applauded. Some hoisted signs.
One was a bright yellow banner, scribbled with well-wishes from fans and players.
"GET WELL STU," it read.
Dispatch Reporter Adam Jardy contributed to this story.