WOODBRIDGE TWP., New Jersey (WABC) — A public works employee is lucky to be alive thanks to the quick actions of a police officer after the worker was struck by lightning in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey.

It happened at Iselin Middle School on Panther Road in Iselin just before 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, as weather radar images showed thunderstorms popping up in the area.

Eric Baumgartner, an 18-year veteran of the Woodbridge DPW and Parks Division employee, was repainting lines on the school’s soccer field when he was struck by a single bolt of lightning.

The strike was heard for miles around.

“It was like a bomb, a huge bomb,” said Iselin resident Jay Heday. “Then out of the window I saw the guy go down, flat on the floor.”

Baumgartner’s co-workers called 911 to report the emergency.

Woodbridge Police Officer Robert “RJ” McPartland, a 3-year veteran of the department and certified EMT who is assigned to nearby J.F.K. High School, arrived on the scene within minutes.

“I heard the lightning and thought that seems close,” McPartland said.

He found the 39-year-old worker unresponsive and without a pulse. McPartland began administering chest compressions.

“It was apparent that he was struck by lightning,” McPartland said. “He was still holding one of the machines. We were able to get that away from him.”

Baumgartner’s pulse returned, and he was conscious and alert as he was transported by ambulance to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.

“Once we are in the ambulance and he did get a pulse back he did slowly begin to gain consciousness while he was still on scene,” McPartland said. “He wasn’t talking yet. But he was starting to move his limbs and wake up a little bit.”

Baumgartner’s coworker was in the back of the ambulance with him and says he knew who he was but didn’t know what happened to him.

Baumgartner is listed in stable condition, and Eyewitness News is told his wife and several co-workers are by his side.

He is expected to make a full recovery.

“I have every reason to believe that RJ McPartland saved Eric Baumgartner’s life,” said Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac. “And I can’t be prouder of the job that our police officers do.”

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