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Sunday 18 February 2018

Dad hit by lightning had metal plates in his chest

Victim George Allen
Victim George Allen

Allan Preston

Metal plates inside the chest of a father who was struck by lightning as he collected his children from school may have exacerbated his injuries.

George Allen (37) and his son Geordie (5), from Ballymacash, Lisburn, Co Down, are both fighting for their lives in hospital following the freak accident.

Mr Allen's daughter, Georgia (7), suffered serious burn injuries and is said to be in a stable condition.

The family were making their way to their car outside the gates of Killowen Primary School shortly before 2pm on Tuesday when Mr Allen was hit by a bolt of lightning.

It has emerged that Mr Allen had metal plates inserted in his chest from a previous medical procedure and this may have increased the severity of his injuries.

The school's vice-principal, Ashley Mulligan, has been praised for saving Mr Allen's life after reviving him using a defibrillator while waiting for emergency ambulance crews to arrive.

He remains in intensive care at the Ulster Hospital while his children are being cared for at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

The school reopened for a half-day yesterday to allow staff to reassure pupils and parents who witnessed the terrifying accident.

The North's Education Minister Peter Weir visited Killowen Primary yesterday.

"Obviously it's been a very traumatic incident. It will take quite a while for people to recover from that, I would very much praise the actions of the school and in particular the principal and vice-principal in their reaction yesterday," he said.

"The vice-principal's swift intervention hopefully saved a life, there's also good work done by the principal as well. They had to try and shelter the family, some staff members were out with umbrellas for instance, in many ways they were still at a certain level of risk themselves. They put personal risk aside and helped this family in very difficult circumstances."

Killowen school governor and former DUP MLA Jonathan Craig added his praise to the heroic actions of Ashley Mulligan.

"He's very modest about what happened and very, very concerned for the father and what happened to the children," he said.

"He's quite a modest individual, which is incredible given what he's done."

Meanwhile, a fundraising web page has been set up to help the Allen family, and has raised more than £2,000.

Witnesses to the freak accident told how there was a thunderstorm as parents collected their children.

Richard Bradley, who arrived at the school just moments after the ambulance, described how the storm continued to rage overhead as paramedics treated Mr Allen and his children.

He said: "I could see the storm overhead and there was very, very heavy rain.

"There were huge flashes of lightning. It was really very frightening."

One witness said he believed Mr Allen was on his mobile at the time the lightning bolt hit.

Irish Independent

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