Lightning strikes GW concertgoer

A GW law student was critically injured when she was struck by lightning at the Tibetan Freedom Concert at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium June 13.

Eleven people were injured when the lightning bolt struck the lower level of seats during a performance by Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters.

The most seriously injured was Lysa Selfon, a 25-year-old GW law student. She attended the concert with her sister Amanda Selfon and friends when tragedy struck.

“We heard this big boom sound – it sounded like a bomb,” Amanda said. “She turned around and another one went off. We both fell to the ground.”

Amanda said she may have blacked out momentarily, but when she got up her sister lay motionless.

“Her face had turned completely pale,” Amanda said. “She had holes in her shirt and was bleeding out of her mouth. I didn’t think they’d be able to revive her.

“It was the most scared I’ve been in my life,” Amanda said.

Medical personnel quickly came to the scene to conduct CPR.

The concert stopped a few minutes later when ambulances drove on to the playing field. The day’s events were eventually canceled, leaving many ticket holders unable to see some of their favorite bands.

Although some groups, including R.E.M. and Radiohead, performed the next day, others, like Beck and Tracy Chapman, could not reschedule.

The concert also featured Live, Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam and Blues Travelers, among others.

A week after their encounter with lightning, Amanda said Lysa’s condition is improving. She has started physical therapy and has no apparent muscle, nerve or organ damage.

“Her spirits are great,” Amanda said. “She’s doing well.”

Lysa opened a paint-your-own-pottery store near Dupont Circle last year. Amanda has worked at the store, called “Prima Donna” during her sister’s absence.

“She is very lively,” Amanda said.

Lysa’s mother has been spending time by her daughter’s side at Washington Hospital Center.

Amanda said Lysa’s goal is to come back to her third year of law school in the fall, where she is studying First Amendment law.

“She’s very fortunate,” Amanda said.

The two-day Tibetan Freedom Concert was organized to raise awareness and money for organizations interested in reclaiming Tibetan independence. Tibet is territorially claimed by the Chinese, who have exiled Buddhist leaders like the Dalai Lama.

President Clinton is expected to travel to China this week and concert organizers urged him to discuss the Tibetan issue in meetings with Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

Monday, activists gathered on the steps of the Capitol, along with celebrities and lawmakers, to urge Clinton to make Tibetan independence a key issue on his trip.

Click here to read a Washington Post story about Lysa Seflon’s recovery at Washington Hospital Center.

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