Northern Ireland news

Cookstown teen injured in US lightning strike thankful for lucky escape

Cookstown teenager Ryan Murphy

A CO TYRONE teenager injured by a lightning strike at a golf event in the US has said he is thankful for his lucky escape.

Ryan Murphy (19) was among six golf fans injured by lightning at the weekend while attending the Tour Championship in Atlanta, which was won by Rory McIlroy.

After blacking out and being treated in hospital for the freak injury, the student cut short his summer holiday and has returned home to Cookstown.

He said he remembered walking across the course to a fan shop and the next thing he knew he had fallen to the ground with his ears ringing.

"Whenever I woke up, I was surrounded by people and there were ambulances, and it was just very chaotic," he told RTÉ, saying he was told he had been "struck by lightning".

He said some of those helping him thought he was slurring his words, but he believes it may have just been a case of Americans struggling with his Tyrone accent.

Mr Murphy was put in a neck brace and back board and spent about seven hours in hospital where he had a CT scan.

The Rory McIlroy fan said he was following the golfer on Friday and Saturday. McIlroy won the tournament by four shots to earn prize money worth £12.2 million.

Mr Murphy had been working at a summer camp in Wisconsin, and Atlanta was the first point on his planned tour of the US.

Plans to go to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas and finish in New York were cut short.

He said he had not really slept since the incident, but escaped largely unscathed apart from "a few sore heads".

Mr Murphy added that the golf tournament organisers have been in contact and told him some McIlroy merchandise would be sent to him.

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