17 Year Old Student Killed by
August 29, 2007
by Steve Fowler
S.C. 3:30 p.m. -- A small Christian school lost its student body
president when he was tragically killed and his soccer coach was
injured by a lightning strike at the school campus on Wednesday
Alex Holbein was pronounced dead at
Spartanburg Regional Medical Center just after 4 p.m. He was the
victim of a direct hit by lightning. The coroner said that the bolt
entered his head and exited his feet. He was motionless after the
strike according to witnesses. Several other students were knocked
to the ground but only Holbein and the coach were hurt.
Thursday would have been Holbein's
18th birthday. He was a senior at at Oakbrook Preparatory School,
located at 190 Lincoln School Road in Spartanburg.
Holbeinís fellow student Thomas Renfrow
said. "I canít believe it, I don't think itís sunk in yet.
Itís unbelievable, just happened so fast,Ē
Oakbrook Preparatory School Director
Steve Smith said, "Alex is a tremendous influence on all our
lives,Ē . ďWeíre going to miss his physical presence, but his legacy
we're going to carry forward."
and his coach, Tim Blakeney were on the field in a soccer drill
when there was a sudden, extremely loud clap of thunder just after
The first call to 911 came in at 3:38
p.m - then followed by many calls from the scene.
Thunderstorms were moving through the
area at that time, but there were no severe weather warnings and
there were not a large number of lightning strikes to ground.
Blakeney is in fair condition in Spartanburg
Regional Medical Center. He teaches history and government at Oakbrook.
He also coaches middle school basketball.
By 5:30 p.m., there was a group gathered
at Spartanburg Community Church for a prayer vigil for Holbein and
Oakbrook is an independent, private
Christian school that has approximately 450 students in kindergarten
through 12th grade.
In the United States, an average of
66 people are killed each year by lightning. In 2004, there were
32 deaths attributed to lightning, down from 44 thanks in part to
increased education and safety. In 2005, there were 43 deaths confirmed
deaths and 172 confirmed injuries.
On August 22, 2006, Norma Jean Fowler
was killed by lightning less than 3 miles from Oakbrook School.
Up to 100 people a year in the USA
lose their lives to lightning. We have written many articles on
lightning victims. Visit our web page on lightning for more information:
One very odd twist of fate to this
story may be in another lightning strike near where Norma Jean was
killed. In a small community called Fairmont on August 11, 1895,
members of the Fowler family were killed in a lightning strike.
Fairmont as a textile village is long gone. But the memory still
exists there of the summer night that devastated the small community.
The tragedy so affected the little village that they built a small
monument to the two victims who dies quickly. Their names were Sarah
and William Fowler - my great aunt and uncle.
Today, the grave is in disrepair at
the old Methodist Church in Fairmont. It rests besides the graves
of some of the textile magnates of that era - also in disrepair.
The local children for many years have told stories of the dead
children haunting the grave site. Locals walk around the grave and
say that you can still hear them call out.
Many times sports participants are hurt during storms.
More care should be taken for the safety of students in dangerous
weather. If it too hot, if it is too stormy play should be suspended.
Some companies make devices to warn coaches of impending lightning
hazards. More coaches and school administrators should visit the