ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 24: Fans walk past lightning damage to a tree during a suspension in play due to inclement weather during the third round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on August 24, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Six injured during lightning storm at East Lake Golf Club

PGA Tour Championship play suspended 30 minutes before lightning strike

Several people were injured Saturday afternoon during a lightning storm at East Lake Golf Club, which is hosting the Tour Championship. 

The lightning appeared to strike a tree, sending other golf fans running. 

Four adult males and a juvenile were seeking shelter near a pine tree when lightning struck the tree, according to Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos. A sixth person also had injuries, police said. 

The tree is located behind the green on No. 15, near the Fanzone and a structure called The Deck, both popular gathering spots. Atlanta’s Zee Abernathy is a volunteer at The Deck and said she heard the crack of lightning and people started running. 

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“People come out here for a great time and you don’t expect that to happen,” Abernathy said. “I was moved to tears. If there had been more people (near the strike), it could have been more tragic.”

Firefighters and police from both Atlanta and DeKalb responded to the golf course. All of those injured were alert while being taken to local hospitals for treatment, Campos said. Their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. 

“You could actually feel it when it hit, through your whole body,” said Scott Merrifield from Buford, who was standing a few hundred feet away. 

At 4:17 p.m., play was suspended due to inclement weather, the PGA said in an emailed statement. The fans were injured by the lightning strike about 30 minutes later. 

“The safety of our fans, players and partners is of the utmost importance,” the PGA said. 

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 24: Emergency services provide assistance next to a tree damaged by a lightning strike during a suspension in play of the third round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on August 24, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Play is expected to resume at 8 a.m. Sunday. There is a 40 percent chance of showers Sunday, according to meteorologist Katie Walls with Channel 2 Action News. 

Lightning strikes have killed 12 people in the U.S. so far this year, according to the National Weather Service. None of those deaths have been in Georgia

From 2006 through 2018, 396 people were struck and killed by lightning in the U.S., according to the National Lightning Safety Council. Almost two-thirds of the deaths occurred among people who had been enjoying outdoor leisure activities. Hundreds of others were injured.