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3 US Coast Guard officers injured in lightning strike at Costa Rica’s Poás Volcano 

September 21, 2015

A lightning strike at Costa Rica’s Poás Volcano Saturday afternoon left three U.S. Coast Guard officers hospitalized.

A sudden thunderstorm passed over the popular tourist destination located 50 kilometers northwest of Costa Rica’s capital on Saturday, at about 12:30 p.m. Before park rangers could clear the volcano’s scenic overlook, lightning struck roughly 25 meters away from the three, knocking them to the ground, Poás National Park Administration Redy Conejo told The Tico Times. Conejo said no one else was present at the overlook at the time of the accident.

The daily La Nación identified the three as Javier Carpio, 30, Jorge Teller, 32, and Shebly Suminksy, 28. Jeison Murillo, a Red Cross paramedic based in San Pedro, Poás, said the two men received first- and second-degree burns on their chest, stomach and legs. Suminksy had burns on her right leg, he said. Murillo said the other two had open wounds on their heads caused by a fall.

The Red Cross transported the three Coast Guard officers to San Rafael Hospital in Alajuela, north of the capital. The three traveled to Costa Rica as part of a training exercise with the Costa Rican Coast Guard, according to Alexis Sullivan, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in San José. All three are recovering well, she said.

“The Embassy and Costa Rican medical professionals are providing full support,” Sullivan told The Tico Times.

Park administrator Conejo said the park’s policy is to close the overlook in the event of a thunderstorm. Lightning strikes are common around the park, he said.

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