New Jersey police officer performs life-saving CPR on a man struck by lightning

Jun 17, 2023, 4:09 PM

Woodbridge Police Officer Robert "RJ" McPartland speaks at a news conference following his rescue o...

Woodbridge Police Officer Robert "RJ" McPartland speaks at a news conference following his rescue of a man struck by lightning in New Jersey. (WCBS)


(CNN) — A New Jersey police officer has been hailed as a hero after helping save the life of a father who was struck by lightning.

Woodbridge Township employee Eric Baumgartner, 39, was painting lines on a middle school’s practice soccer field Wednesday afternoon, hoping to wrap before the rain started, according to CNN affiliate WCBS.

Baumgartner didn’t finish in time. Dramatic video showed the moment a bolt of lightning struck him while on the field, WCBS reported.

Baumgartner’s co-workers called 911 to report what had happened, according to CNN affiliate WPVI.

Woodbridge police officer Robert “R.J.” McPartland, a certified emergency medical technician and former firefighter, was ending his shift at a nearby high school at the time of the strike and said he was able to respond quickly, as he was “trained to do,” WCBS reported.

He said he raced into action upon finding Baumgartner unresponsive and with no pulse, according to WPVI.

“We were able to see some burn marks appeared on his hands, so that was how we were able to determine what happened, and we knew we needed to start compressions to get his heart started again,” McPartland was quoted as saying by WCBS. “We were trying to talk to him the whole time. Once we were in the ambulance and he did get a pulse back, he did slowly begin to regain consciousness.”

Baumgartner, a US Coast Guard veteran and dad to two young sons, was taken to a hospital.

He was listed in good condition on Friday, a spokesperson with Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health told CNN in an email.

“R.J. McPartland saved Eric Baumgartner’s life,” Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac said, according to WCBS. “He’s very lucky that everybody was where they should have been when they should have been.”

A Woodbridge Police Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to CNN.

Though the risk of getting hit by lightning is low, an average of 28 people die each year from being struck, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A typical flash of lightning contains about 300 million volts and 30,000 amps, according to the National Weather Service.

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New Jersey police officer performs life-saving CPR on a man struck by lightning