A teaching assistant at a Lancaster County school was struck by lightning while on a field trip with students in Greenville County, school officials said.
Kristina Heaton, an aide at Buford Middle School, received burns to her arm and side on May 11 and was taken to a hospital in North Carolina, said Sheri Wells, the school principal who was on the field trip. Heaton then was airlifted to a burn center in Georgia so she could be checked for internal burns or injuries, Wells said..
Heaton was released from the burn center late on May 12 and is home recovering, Wells said.
Heaton was on a rope course at a YMCA outdoor camp when the strike happened around 4 p.m., Wells said. Around 40 students from an arts honor society had earned the field trip to the camp and were accompanied by adult staff, Wells said.
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David Knight, spokesman for the Lancaster County school district, said no students or other adults on the trip were injured. Heaton was coming down the ropes after the climb when the lightning strike happened, Knight said.
Heaton and another adult were the last coming down from the course at the time of the incident, Wells said. Heaton was attached by straps after the lightning strike and was briefly dangling, but camp officials quickly got her to the ground, Wells said.
"She never lost consciousness and walked to the gym to be looked at and receive medical attention," Wells said.
Staff and students were able to talk to Heaton via Facetime over the weekend, Wells said.
Students are making get well cards for Heaton. She works with students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades, Wells said.
"Kristina is a wonderful employee at our school," Wells said.
Wells said the weather was overcast at the time of the incident but there was neither rain nor thunder.
Heaton went to work at the school Monday, but Knight and Wells said Heaton went home because of pain from the incident. A return date for Heaton to go back to work has not been set, Wells said.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065, @AndrewDysHerald