CHICAGO (WLS) -- A lightning strike injured a 13-year-old girl on the West Side as storms moved through the Chicago area Wednesday afternoon.
When a lightning bolt hit the ground behind Jordan Garrett and his father Daniel Jackson, of Destiny Water Ice Company, the pair was just getting ready to close up shop when rain started to come down mid-afternoon.
The Chicago Park District said the teen was out enjoying a day with her family in the park near the Garfield Park Conservatory.
"We could just see the sparks from back there and then we just heard screaming," Garrett said. "We just heard screams. I didn't know if somebody got hit or not until they came out with her. Then I was like, wow, a whole child got hit. I feel bad for her and her family."
Emergency crews were called to the 300 block of North Central Park Avenue at about 1 p.m. for reports of a girl struck by lightning, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Merritt said.
CFD said the 13-year-old girl was taken to Stroger Hospital in critical condition.
The father and son were just feet away from where the bolt hit.
"We actually thought it hit a tree. But when we saw the ambulance and the fire department pull up, we knew somebody had been struck," Jackson said. "I'm very shook up. And I feel for the parents."
Strong storms started developing in the west and northwest suburbs around 12:30 p.m. and moved into the Chicago area over the next three hours, according to the National Weather Service, prompting a severe thunderstorm watch.
Roughly 5,000 lighting strikes were recorded between 1-2 p.m. from Lake County to Will County as the strongest part of the storm moved through the area, the weather service said, citing preliminary data.
About 40 million lighting strikes hit the ground in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adding that the odds of being struck by lightning are less than one in a million.