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Dad works to raise awareness of lightning safety, CPR
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Care in the Community Lacrosse
Invitational
What: Tournament features family CPR sessions and benefits the Riggs Brady Benefit Trust
Where: Sawnee Mountain Park, 3995 Watson Road, Cumming
When: Aug. 20-22
Registration and information: www.wfylax.com

Matt Brady hopes an upcoming youth lacrosse benefit tournament will raise awareness about lightning safety and CPR.

The coach learned first hand just how valuable the life-saving skills can be after his family’s harrowing encounter with lightning earlier this summer.

Brady, his 14-year-old son Riggs and 11-year-old son Tucker were struck by lightning June 15 off Jot-Em-Down Road in north Forsyth County.

Brady said it’s a miracle Riggs is alive. The teenager suffers from short-term memory loss and other ailments as a result of the strike.

“He knows he got hit by lightning,” Brady said. “He knows he got in an accident. I don’t think he knows he died.”

The father of three said he had taken his sons out that day to ride dirt bikes on a track at a friend’s house. Their fun was cut short when the sky darkened with an approaching storm.

Brady said they were struck while loading their bikes onto his pickup and trailer.

The truck was parked near trees, for which he was at first grateful because of the shelter they provided from the heavy rain.

He said he was on the trailer, Riggs was standing in the truck bed and Tucker was by the passenger side door.

“It threw me off the side of the trailer,” Brady said of the lightning strike. “My hands were numb. I couldn’t hear anything, my ears were ringing. My legs were completely numb.”

The shock had knocked all three of them out. When he came to, Brady said he could hear Tucker screaming that he couldn’t move his arms or legs. Eventually, the boy was able to move.

Tucker’s brother, however, had not woken up.

“I looked and he was, he was down and there was nothing,” Matt Brady said of Riggs.

He told his younger son to get under or inside the truck. Though he still could not feel his arms or legs, Brady crawled on his elbows to the trailer and pulled himself up.

“That’s when I looked and (Riggs) was gone,” Brady said.

His hands still numb, Brady placed his mouth on his older son’s neck and couldn’t feel a pulse.

He then dragged Riggs to the end of the truck bed, where he was able to straighten him out and place his hands on the boy’s chest.

Brady laid on top of his own hands and, using the weight of his body, pressed down in an attempt to perform CPR.

“Now it is downpouring and lightning everywhere,” Brady said. “So we’re sitting there, and it is just freaking going off. I’m begging and I’m pleading with everybody that’s holy, ‘Just give me something, give
me something.’”

After about 10 or 15 minutes, Brady’s friend arrived and called 911.

Emergency medical personnel arrived, moved the teen to a nearby garage and tried to revive him for about 15 minutes.

Brady said he is not sure if they were able to get a pulse before or after putting his son in an ambulance, but Riggs was dead for about 45 minutes.

Doctors at Northside Hospital-Forsyth were able to stabilize the boy, who was later taken to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. He remained hospitalized there for about three weeks.

Brady said doctors have told him his efforts saved his son’s life.

Riggs receives daily physical and occupational therapy treatments and has a tutor. The family hopes the rising ninth-grader will be able to start school this week.

Brady, who suffered third-degree burns on his legs and feet, said the whole family is still recovering from the incident. He and Tucker take medication to help them sleep at night.

The support his family has received from friends has been overwhelming, Brady said. He hopes the story of their life-changing experience will help others.

West Forsyth Youth Lacrosse has organized the Care in the Community Lacrosse Invitational to support the Riggs Brady benefit trust. The three-day event begins Aug. 20.

“I’m using the tournament as a backboard for CPR and lightning safety awareness,” Brady said.

A lightning detection system will be on site and family CPR sessions will be given during the three-day benefit at Sawnee Mountain Park.

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