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LIGHTNING STRIKE KILLS YOUNGSTER
Lightning strike kills youngster, injures another

FEEDBACK: If you were on the field last night or want to share details about either child, please contact Ellen Biltz.

  • RELATED: Parent: Lightning 'came out of nowhere' (11:09 a.m.)
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    Date published: 6/4/2009

    BY ELLEN BILTZ

    One boy was killed and another injured when they were struck by lightning yesterday evening while playing baseball in Spotsylvania County.

    Chelal Matos, 12, a Chancellor Middle School student, was pronounced dead shortly after he was taken to Mary Washington Hospital, said 1st Sgt. Liz Scott of the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office.

    Scott said the second boy, who is 11, was taken to Mary Washington Hospital and was then driven by LifeCare to VCU Medical Center in Richmond. Scott said the youngster was in "very grave, critical condition."

    Melvin Brown, principal at Chancellor Middle, said the injured boy, who is not a student at the middle school, is still in critical condition this morning.

    He is responding visually to hand motions but is still on a ventilator, said Liz Scott of the Sheriff's Office.

    "We're all kind of hopeful," she said this afternoon.

    The report of the lightning strikes came in to the Sheriff's Office at 6:26 p.m., Scott said, as the boys were playing baseball in the Spotsylvania Little League at Lee Hill Park, across from Lee Hill Elementary School. She said Lt. R.W. Gill responded to the scene in six minutes. When he arrived, two nurses who were attending the game were performing CPR on the boys, who were later taken to the hospital.

    According to Scott, the umpires had halted the game because of the storm, but the two boys were playing catch on the field under the supervision of their parents. Scott said the lightning struck Matos, and the charge then transferred to the other boy.

    Brown, said last night that a crisis team was being assembled and would be available at the school this morning to speak with students and faculty.

    Brown also said the school will hold a faculty meeting at 7 a.m. Faculty members were being notified last night with the details that were available, Brown added.

    This morning, Brown described Matos, a sixth-grader, as a "fun-loving kid who always had a smile on his face."

    Brown said Matos had tons of friends at the school, and that became even more obvious this morning by the number of children hoping to sign a special yearbook for their classmates' family.

    He said students are finding creative ways to express their grief, some by making cards and others signing T-shirts.

    Brown said Matos was also known for his love of the game.

    "He was becoming quite a baseball player," the principal said. "I was actually talking with his dad about that this morning."

    Brown said the father told him that Matos had one of the best games of his life shortly before the lightning strike, getting a single hit and then stealing two bases.

    There is no memorial set yet at Chancellor, but Brown said they will be talking with the Matos family to figure out the best way for the school to remember him.

    Ellen Biltz: 540/374-5424
    Email: ebiltz@freelancestar.com


    The Spotsylvania County Little League sent out a press release this morning expressing their condolences to the Matos family. In the release, they said all games will be suspended until the family's needs are met. The league president, John Hall is quoted as saying, "Our primary concern at this time is for the families and for everyone involved with this tragedy."