Lightning strike in Las Cruces has local coaches on high alert

Posted at: 08/20/2014 6:29 PM
Updated at: 08/20/2014 6:38 PM
By: Jorge Torres, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Tragedy struck the City of Vision on the Fourth of July in 2009 when lightning hit and killed a man.

"That tragedy, I think, has made us all aware of just how dangerous lightning is," said Bruce Carver, the Athletic Director with Rio Rancho Public Schools.

In light of Tuesday's strike in Las Cruces, he wants to make sure coaches, trainers and athletic coordinators in his district do what they can to keep their players and themselves safe.

"Anything from 6-10 miles…we'll be on high alert. You're on high alert that you really need to be watching. Anything six miles or inside, we're off the field," he said.

It's all part of the New Mexico Activities Association's recommended guidelines. Rio Rancho also uses technology.

"We have Weatherbug. All of our athletic coordinators and our trainers have that where immediately they know there's lightning within eight miles, nine miles, ten miles of Cleveland or Rio Rancho."

Some high school staff even carry lightning detection devices. They go off whenever lightning is nearby.

"Sometimes coaches want to do the right thing, but sometimes they want to get one more play in. Maybe it doesn't look that bad, but lightning is so deceiving," Carver said.

Right now it's only trainers at Rio Rancho high schools using the lightning detectors. Carver says he's thinking of expanding the tool to middle schools as well.