Two paintball players struck by lightning Friday

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TOWN OF ST. JOSEPH -- Two men playing paintball were seriously injured Friday in a St. Croix County lightning strike.

The men, whose identities were not immediately released, were taken by ambulance to Regions Hospital in St. Paul with what St. Croix County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Scott Knudson described as “very serious injuries.”

The incident occurred at 11:36 a.m. in a wooded area at Splat Tag Inc., 835 County Road E, in the town of St. Joseph.

Splat Tag owner Darrin Johnson said the victims were part of a bachelor party that was in the field at the time of a sudden, brief storm that brought a lightning strike.

“Thank God it wasn't a direct hit,” he said Friday.

Knudson said burn marks found on the men suggested “that a lightning strike had occurred near them.”

Johnson said he and others at the 100-acre paintball facility inspected the wooded area where the men were found injured, but couldn’t find where the bolt struck. He and others at the facility said the deafening report left no doubt that it occurred very close.

Knudson said a deputy who was in the area at the time reported significant lightning around the time of the report at the paintball facility.