'We're trying to get home' – parents of Irishman hospitalised after lightning strike at golf tournament 'thankful he's alive'

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'We're trying to get home' – parents of Irishman hospitalised after lightning strike at golf tournament 'thankful he's alive'
'We're trying to get home' – parents of Irishman hospitalised after lightning strike at golf tournament 'thankful he's alive'
Ryan Murphy
Ryan Murphy

The father of a Northern Ireland teenager hospitalised by a lightning strike at a US golf course has said he is thankful his son is still alive.

Rory McIlroy fan Ryan Murphy was one of six people injured when lightning struck a 60-foot pine tree at the event in Atlanta, Georgia.

The 19-year-old, from Cookstown in Co Tyrone, had travelled to America to watch his hero play in a multi-million-dollar PGA Tour event.

The freak lightning bolt struck the top of the tree just off the 16th tee and shattered the bark all the way to the bottom.

Ryan had been standing at the base of the tree when the lightning hit. The third round of the season-ending PGA Tour event had already been suspended for about 30 minutes because of storms in the area, and fans were instructed to seek some shelter from the weather.

Ryan’s dad Terry Murphy and wife Lisa praised the help their son had received after his ordeal.

“Lisa and I would like to thank everyone for their calls, text messages and help during the night,” his dad said. “He’s battered, bruised and a bit shaken up.

“You never, ever think you’re going to get that gut-wrenching call.

“Hard to deal with when it’s on the other side of the world but our little community stretches right around the world and the help was amazing.”

Terry singled out Allison Fillmore from the Tour Championship for praise.

She stayed with Ryan for hours in hospital to make sure he was all right.

“I spoke to Ryan and he explained he was at the base of the tree when it was struck and they were just blown off their feet unconscious,” Mr Murphy said.

“Having seen the video we are so thankful he’s alive.

“We are now trying to arrange for him to get home.”

Ryan, a former pupil at St Mary’s Grammar School in Magherafelt, has been released from hospital in Atlanta.

It is understood he is keen to come home after his ordeal. Next month he is to become a student at Queen’s University.

Five males and one female were injured in the incident at East Lake Golf Club, six miles east of Atlanta, local police said.

One person was treated at the scene, and the other five were taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Eyewitness Brad Uhl told reporters: “There was just a big explosion and then an aftershock so strong you could feel the wind from it.

“It was just a flash out of the corner of the eye.

“It was raining and everyone was huddled near the tree.”

Belfast Telegraph

Source: Irish