FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - A Little League game turned deadly for a Spotsylvania boy Wednesday when lightning struck at a local park.
Robert Matos was so proud of his 12-year-old son at the game Wednesday afternoon. "He was the only one who scored. He got up, he got on base, he stole second, he stole third, and he went home."
It was the last run 12-year-old Chelal Gross-Matos would score.
Frank Albright says his son's team was playing a game at Lee Hill Park. Umpires halted the game and cleared the field when lightning was sighted in the area.
"As soon as there was lightning everyone came off the field," said Albright.
"I heard the loud thunder and the boom itself. I remember that because my wife was scared," said Charles Hicks, a neighbor.
Spotsylvania County sheriff's 1st Sgt. Liz Scott says 12-year-old Chelal Gross-Matos and an 11-year-old teammate remained and were playing catch under parents' supervision when lightning struck the field.
"They just wanted to play. They were about to come off the field. My wife was yelling at them. My dad was about to go get them and then it happened," Matos explained.
Leagues have specific marching orders to get off the field if lightning threatens, but it can strike even when it's not raining and in a flash.
"Seeing that bad lightning I thought, 'Oh my goodness. I could be getting struck by lightning just by running to the truck,"" said Lisa Spieker, a mother. "That's how fast it can happen."
"It was just an enormous lightning strike. I could see grass in the air," said Albright.
Scott says lightning hit Matos and the charge transferred to the other boy.
Albright says nurses who were on the scene rushed to the two injured boys and immediately began performing CPR.
"As far as I know neither one of them [was] responsive," said Albright Wednesday night. "They were doing CPR on my coach's son in my truck for the longest time before the ambulances got here."
Matos says his son loved baseball and played for his father, Robert, on the Spotsylvania County Little League baseball team, the Yankees.
"It was the last thing -- the absolute last thing any of us expected," Matos said. "A beautiful life, a good kid, got taken."
Authorities say grief counselors went to Chancellor Middle School in Fredericksburg Thursday morning where Chelal was in the sixth grade.
Melvin Brown, Chancellor's principal, learned of the freak accident Wednesday night and says he knew Thursday would be a difficult day for the boy's classmates.
"He was a bit of a jokester -- liked to be around his friends and make his friends laugh and we knew he had a number of friends, but we found out today it was far more than we thought," said Brown.
At the baseball field where Chelal died, friends are now placing flowers in his honor. It is hard for many of them to understand that he's gone.
"He liked to have fun and he would make people smile and even when you talk to him and you're down he'll make you laugh," said Mariah Fox, a friend. "He actually cared. So it's going to be real hard. I'm going to miss him and everything."
Scott says the 11-year-old, who wasn't identified, was in critical condition at a Richmond hospital. Officials say he is a fifth grader at an undisclosed elementary school. He may now face a long road to recovery and will need the support of many to make it.
"I know Chelal is pulling for him, I know Chelal is telling him to get up. I know he is, because that's Chelal," said Matos. "Now we're hoping for the other boy [be]cause we wouldn't wish this on anybody."
The victim's father explains that he lost not only his son, but also his best friend. "I hope he knows how much we love him. How much we miss him," said Matos. "He'll be in my heart the rest of my life."
Tags: 12-year-old, boy, struck, killed, lightning, 11-year-old, boy, critical
Location: Fredericksburg, Virginia, United States (load item map)
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