UPDATE as of 4:35 p.m.: Conner Benson's family reports he is awake, his eyes are open and he is reponding to 'yes' or 'no' questions by nodding. Conner Benson, a recent Park City High School graduate, and Jaimie Martin, a PCHS senior, along with their friend, Alex Steele, from Florida, had just pulled their boats onto the beach alongside the Severn River in Annapolis, Maryland, on Wednesday evening when a bolt of lightning struck the wet sand near them.

Benson and Steele were tossed to the ground and knocked unconscious by the impact. According to Sandy Goble, Benson's grandmother, when rescuers arrived the boys' hearts had stopped beating.

As of Friday morning, Benson and Steele were being slowly revived from their medically-induced comas. According to Tricia Rushaupt, a spokesperson for the Anne Arundel County Medical Center, the boys were listed in serious condition. She was unable to offer further details.

Conner's parents John and Lori Benson, who live in Ranch Place in Park City, immediately flew to their son's bedside and, as of Friday, were waiting to learn about the full extent of his injuries. Benson's sisters, Blaire Hayes, who owns Flight Boutique on Main Street and Kendyl Yorba were also at the hospital.

Goble said Conner was spending the summer with Martin's family, where he was interning with her father's insurance business. The Martins, she said, split their time between Maryland and Park City. She added, Jaimie also felt the lightning strike and ran for help.


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Two doctors who were nearby were able to perform CPR until medical personnel arrived.

On Friday, Goble set up an account so people can contribute to the family's mounting medical costs. She said Conner also has juvenile diabetes and a seizure disorder. "He has had a lot of medical challenges but he is very strong." She added that, at this point, they have no idea about his ultimate prognosis.

The family has set up a Caring Bridge site to keep friends updated on Conner's condition: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/connerbenson

On Friday at noon the family posted this hopeful news: "The nurses and doctors have started the process of warming Conner back up per protocol. He should be back at normal temperature by 4 p.m. Maryland time. At that point they will slowly lower his doses of the paralytics and sedation medications, and conduct some tests from there. The neurologist said we shouldn't expect anything until tomorrow, but we all think our fighter might try to show us some progress earlier than that.

"Earlier this morning, he did start to move his arms and head a little bit (even though he is heavily sedated). We saw this as a good sign even though the doctors want him to remain sedated and still. We are reading, talking and telling jokes to our Conner man and playing his favorite 'old soul' music (Sinatra and the classics) to him."

For those who want to donate to the family, an account has been established at Chase Bank. Go to any branch to donate to Sandra Goble's account in trust for Conner Benson.