WOODBRIDGE TOWNSHIP, N.J. (WPIX) — A longtime town maintenance worker was struck by lightning on a practice soccer field next to a middle school in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey, officials said Wednesday.
The strike happened just before 12:30 p.m. across from Iselin Middle School, where 39-year-old Woodbridge Township employee Eric Baumgartner was working.
Police officer RJ McPartland was on his way to the middle school for dismissal when the call came over about the lightning strike. Baumgartner didn’t have a pulse when he arrived, McPartland said. They used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to revive him.
“I saw Eric out on the field, immediately ran up to him and checked for a pulse, and realized he didn’t have a pulse,” said McPartland. “He was still holding one of the machines. We were able to get that away from him. When more units arrived, we were able to get the AED hooked up to him, and start breathing for him.”
A doorbell camera in the neighborhood captured the lightning strike and the police response.
Baumgartner was rushed to a local hospital, where officials say he was in stable condition.
“I would say as of right now, we have every reason to believe that RJ McPartland saved Eric Baumgartner’s life,” Woodbridge Township Mayor John McCormac said. “I can’t be prouder of the job that our police officers do.”
A nearly four-year veteran of the force and longtime firefighter, McPartland has helped save lives before, but he said he’s never had a call like this.
“Hearing that he’s doing well, that he’s awake right now, is definitely a good feeling,” said McPartland.
McCormac said Baumgartner, a husband and father, has worked for the township for about 18 years.