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Cops work after struck by lightning


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Cops work after struck by lightning

PORTALES, New Mexico (AP) -- Lightning struck two police officers while they were helping motorists on a road flooded by a thunderstorm, but both men stayed on the job.

New Mexico Police Officers Clint Varnell and Lance Bateman were sent to help people in about 15 vehicles stalled by a flash flood late Tuesday about five miles (eight kilometers) south of Portales, in eastern New Mexico, said state police Lt. Jimmy Glascock.

They were struck after rescuing a woman and three small children from one vehicle in a ditch.

"Varnell took the direct hit of lightning and Bateman took a side hit of lightning," Glascock said.

"I was knocked off my feet and I don't remember much," Bateman said Wednesday from his bed at Covenant Hospital in Lubbock, Texas.

"I remember I was laying in the water when I came to and he [Varnell] was standing over me."

However, the men continued helping motorists until the water started to recede.

"We couldn't go anywhere anyway. The road was impassable for a while," Bateman said.

They eventually drove themselves to a hospital in Portales and were transferred to Covenant, where they were listed in satisfactory condition Wednesday, Glascock said.

"All I have is a headache and a sore shoulder," said Bateman, who had been awake for 24 hours.

The road where they had been working remained closed Wednesday morning.

Bateman said he did not consider his work heroic, "just earning my pay."

Besides, he added: "We needed the rain."

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Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

www.cnn.com

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