Dirt bike rider struck by lightning, hospitalized

NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) — Fire rescue crews airlifted a man to Jackson Memorial Hospital after he was struck by lightning while riding a dirt bike Saturday afternoon.

The bolt of lightning hit 35-year-old Jethro Alfonso as he tried to get off the track at Miami MX Park, which is part of Milton E. Thompson Park on 16665 N.W. 177th Ave., off Krome Avenue in Northwest Miami-Dade.

According to witnesses, Alfonso and other motorcyclists were engaged in a routine practice run on the park's race track. As soon as they saw a storm approaching, they tried to seek shelter.

Nikolas Stankov, a motocross coach who witnessed the strike while walking along the track with his daughter, compared the natural phenomenon's sound to a bomb going off. "[I saw] 10 guys exiting the track, saw the [lightning bolt], and I was like, looking, 'Wow, what happened? A transformer, something [blew up],'" he said. "It was like an explosion … like a really, really hard explosion."

It wasn't until a few seconds after the strike that Stankov realized what had happened. "And I just got on my mind that I saw the guy jumping from the bike."

Stankov said he immediately went looking for help. "[I said], 'Somebody got hit! Run! We need to go now!' and I started to run to the guy," he said.

The coach added the victim, who is currently recovering, is a good friend. "He is in all our prayers," he said.

Saturday is the last day Miami MX Park is to remain open. Riders were out rallying, hoping to keep the track operating. A Miami-Dade County ordinance required park administrators to pay for standby services from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, an expense they say they are unable to afford. "Even [if there's only] a single rider, we have to have Miami-Dade Fire Rescue on site," said park spokesperson Mary Pat Pankoke. "No other park in the county has that requirement, and now we're being forced to expend resources to have Miami-Dade Fire Rescue on site. There's just no way we can possibly do that financially."

Arthur Holmes, Assistant Chief of Operations for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, said the department is simply following county regulations. "Any first responder on any emergency, it has to be Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. That's by county orders," he said.

Alfonso's friends said he is alert and responsive at JMH.

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