DeKalb County

All 6 people injured after lightning strikes Tour Championship home, recovering

ATLANTA — Six people injured when lightning hit a tree at the East Lake Golf Club during the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup on Saturday are now recovering at home.

Five of the victims were treated at local hospitals.

PGA officials suspended play shortly after 4:15 p.m. Saturday because of storms moving through. It was about 30 minutes later that authorities say two bolts of lightning hit the golf course.

[LIVE UPDATES: Storms popping up in parts of north Georgia]

Officials told Channel 2's Michael Seiden that one of those bolts hit near the 15th green and the other hit the 16th tee, injuring six people, including a child. The victims appeared to be injured by falling debris, officials said.

The five people taken to the hospital have been treated and released, according to a PGA statement Sunday morning. A sixth person had been treated and released at the scene.

Officials said the victims were sheltering under a 60-foot pine tree on the 16th tee when the lightning hit.

All of the victims were rushed to nearby hospitals.Their injuries appear to be non-life-threatening, emergency officials told Seiden.

New video shows the aftermath of the scene, as people writhe on the ground and first responders rush to their aid.

Tour Championship video

JUST IN: We just this video of the moments after lightning struck at the Tour Championship at the East Lake Golf Club this afternoon, injuring 6 people. (WARNING: May be distrubing to some.)

Posted by WSB-TV on Saturday, August 24, 2019

Seiden was at Northside Hospital Saturday night, where at least one of the six victims is still recovering.

Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein was covering the tournament Saturday when he learned that his friend's brother was among the injured.

[VIDEO: How does lightning and thunder form?]

Billy Kramer, owner of NFA Burgers, told Klein he was driving back from a supply run in a golf cart when the lightning struck.

"I was just to the right of the tree and all of a sudden, it was just like a BOOM. Like a bomb went off," Kramer said. "There were people screaming."


Kramer told Klein that he injured his ankle, but isn't sure how.

"I felt a tingling going through my body," Kramer said. "It was like a violent car accident."

Kramer said he thinks he may have been thrown from the golf cart.

"Then I saw a bunch of people laying around on the ground around my cart, so I ran back over there and there were all types of people attending to people on the ground," Kramer said. "I called 911."

Kramer said the golf cart may have saved his life.

"I think if I wasn't in the cart, it would have been a different story," Kramer said.

Brad Uhl, of Atlanta, was among those crammed under a hospital tent to the right of the 16th hole that was open to the public.

"There was just a big explosion and then an aftershock so strong you could feel the wind from it," Uhl said after the last of the ambulances pulled out of the golf course. "It was just a flash out of the corner of the eye. It was raining, and everyone was huddled near the tree."

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"We felt a little bit of pressure, and then lightning struck. It was prob about 200 yards away," witness Jayshan Lalwani said.

Another witness, who did not give his name, also said it sounded like an explosion going off.

"You heard a crack, you heard a boom, then you see it and then you see umbrellas jump up about a foot," the witness said.

Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Katie Walls tracked the storm from Severe Weather Center 2.

"Around 4:45, 4:46 p.m., that's when the lightning struck the golf course," Walls said.

Officials suspended game play at 4:17 p.m.

Witnesses at the scene said there were several locations that were damaged at the golf course.  Walls said that's not surprising with an event like this.

"A lightning bolt has multiple tendrils. So you can have one lightning bolt step down, but it's 120 million volts trying to get rid of all that energy. And that's why we tend to see several locations in the area impacted," Walls said.

On Saturday night, PGA Tour Vice President Mark Russell said officials followed rules for evacuating the golf course.

"We suspended play and put on the scoreboard that weather was approaching," Russell said. "We want people to take shelter and leave, but a lot of times, they don't."

In a statement from the PGA released Sunday, officials said:

"Atlanta Police Department and Atlanta Fire and Rescue have confirmed that five individuals were injured and transported to nearby hospitals; a sixth person was treated and released at the scene.  All were released from the hospital last night.

The safety and well-being of our fans and players is our highest priority, and we were with those being treated until they were released from area hospitals.  We are deeply grateful that the injuries were not more serious, and we're proud of the collective efforts of the on-site team to quickly care for our fans during this frightening incident. 

Furthermore, late yesterday afternoon, officials were brought on site to assess the integrity of the pine tree that was struck and determined it to be safe. Additionally, several pieces of ShotLink equipment were damaged by the lightning and were replaced overnight. "

The Associated Press contributed to this article.