2 killed by lightning strike identified

Third man hospitalized in critical condition

HOUSTON - Two men who died after lightning struck during a soccer game in north Harris County were identified Monday.

Officials said a group from a men's soccer club was playing on the field in the 1100 block of Hill Road near the Hardy Toll Road when it began to rain about noon Sunday.

The group took shelter under some nearby trees. Moments later, lightning struck one of the trees, ripping huge chunks of bark off.

Jose Romero, who was in his mid 20s, died at the scene. Officials said he was on a cellphone when he was struck. Angel Delgado, 25, was rushed to a hospital, where he died. The two were best friends who worked in construction and lived in Magnolia.

"They were my best friends," said a friend of the victims. "All three of us were more like brothers. We worked together, we played together, we did everything together."

A third man, Edeliro Barrera, was also hurt. He was rushed to a hospital in stable condition with severe burns.

Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Joe Shriver has worked security in the area for 17 years as a second job. He was at the field when the lightning struck and ran to help.

"All of a sudden, the storm popped up. People were starting to get off of the field. It was lightning and thundering. It sounded like a bomb went off," said Shriver.

Shriver said he'd never seen anything like this in all his years of law enforcement.

"It hit the top of the tree and just like sparks and fire going all the way down the tree and when it hit the ground, it just dispersed out," Shriver said.

Shriver said there were many more soccer players sitting under the trees when lightning struck, but they ran to safety. Shriver said in all, about 200 athletes were at the field.

Candles and crosses have been placed at the site where the men were struck.

The bodies were expected to be released to friends on Tuesday. Friends said the bodies will be sent to Mexico for burial.

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