Girl, 13, critically injured after struck by lightning near Garfield Park Conservatory

The girl had been visiting an outdoor garden with her family early Wednesday afternoon, according to the Chicago Park District.

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A teen girl was hospitalized in critical condition after she was struck by lightning Wednesday in Garfield Park.

A teen girl was hospitalized in critical condition after she was struck by lightning Wednesday in Garfield Park.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Daniel Jackson and his stepson were selling sorbet out of a cart outside the Garfield Park Conservatory when they saw a flicker of lightning and heard “a big old boom.”

Then they heard the screams.

An ambulance rushed up and carried away a 13-year-old girl who had been visiting an outdoor garden with her family early Wednesday afternoon, according to the Chicago Park District.

“They came out with a stretcher, and there was a little girl, she was small,” Jackson said.

Paramedics had found the girl in “traumatic arrest” and performed live-saving measures before taking her to Stroger Hospital, where she was listed in critical condition, according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Merritt. No other details were released.

Strong storms started developing in the west and northwest suburbs around 12:30 p.m. and moved into the Chicago area over the next three hours, according to the National Weather Service, prompting a severe thunderstorm watch.

Roughly 5,000 lightning strikes were recorded between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. from Lake County to Will County as the strongest part of the storm moved through the area, the weather service said.

Jackson said he was with his stepson Jordan Garrett when the rains started rolling in. The downpour briefly stopped, they said, before they heard the rumbling thunder and saw the lightning.

At first they thought the lightning had struck a tree, but then realized someone may have been hit. “We heard a little bit of screaming,” Garrett said.

Jackson said there were other children out playing, and “it could have happened to all the kids.”

“I’m trying to figure out what caused it to hit her. It shook me up,” he said.

About 40 million lightning strikes hit the ground in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adding that the odds of being struck by lightning are less than one in a million.

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