Lightning strikes tree in parking lot’s back loading zone


Eric Fang

A San Jose Fire Department truck arrives at the scene of the lightning strike. By the time the firefighters arrived, the tree’s fire had already gone out.

by Tiffany Wong, Aquila News Editor

Lightning struck a tree near the upper school parking lot’s back loading zone near Main Hall today at around 5 p.m.

Director of Upper School Community Service and Student Activities Coordinator Kerry Enzensperger was standing by the parking lot when the lightning struck.

“I was trying to shoot video of the sky, and then it was like an explosion,” she said. “I looked over and the tree was on fire, and the ground [next to] my car was on fire.”

Meena Gudapati

The San Jose Fire Department soon arrived at the scene after the fire went out. Assistant Head of School Greg Lawson and Dean of Students Kevin Williamson also visited the site of the lightning strike to assess the situation. Though late in the school day, some students and faculty were still on campus at the time of the lightning strike.

“I was standing next to Ms. Ellen [Austin]. The lightning hit all of a sudden and I just pushed you out of the way to [help] find cover. It was scary; I’ve never seen anything like it before,” custodian Johnny Lockett said in an interview with Harker Aquila editor-in-chief Meena Gudapati (12). “I’m ex-military and I was in the Army, and that’s the first thing you do when something happens like that; you take cover immediately.”

Director of the Office of Communications Pam Dickinson sent out an email to upper school students’ parents soon after the lightning strike notifying the community of the situation. Students and faculty on campus at the time of the lightning strike were directed to Shah Hall for pickup.

“Just a heads up to our upper school families that one of the trees along the back loading zone fence line was struck by lightning in the storm today. Thank you to our parents for their support today as we redirected traffic,” Dickinson wrote in her message. “There are no changes to the loading zone drop off in the morning.”

A professional arborist will visit the upper school campus tomorrow to inspect the damaged tree.

Meena Gudapati
Assistant Head of School Greg Lawson, Dean of Students Kevin Williamson and four San Jose Fire Department firefighters analyze the tree for damage. A professional arborist will be visiting Harker to inspect the tree tomorrow.