PHOTOS: Storm crashes Absegami High School graduation
GALLOWAY TWP., N.J. - June 7, 2012 (WPVI) -- A scary storm moved in Thursday night as seniors at Absegami High School attended their graduation ceremony in Galloway Township.
The ceremony for the 437 graduating seniors began at the football field at 6:00 p.m. and around 6:45 p.m. the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning.
Witnesses say it started out overcast, and when they started seeing lightning, things quickly went from bad to worse.
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"Oh, it was terrible. It was a lot of little kids and elderly people out here," said Preston Beals.
When witnesses saw a cloud moving in, they knew they were in trouble. It looked like a tornado but was actually a wall cloud with no rotation.
Shortly afterwards, the skies opened up and the crowd was pelted by quarter sized hail, rain, and heavy winds.
"Everybody ran. Umbrellas didn't do any good. When we got to the car we were soaked and we had rain ponchos on," said Debbie Deissler.
Brittany Beals is one of the graduates.
"We started walking inside when all the hail hit us. Everybody got separated, there were young children - it was a mess," said Beal.
Security opened a field house to shelter the elderly and women with young children.
Two people were hospitalized.
"Two people were transported to the hospital. One had an asthma attack and the other was suffering from seizures," said Lt. Paul Dooner of the Galloway Township Police Department.
Given the forecast, many wonder why school officials didn't reschedule, or at least wrap things up quickly when the storm approached.
Action News reached out but school officials have not returned phone calls.
Some graduates say they want to have another ceremony, upset that they didn't get to take pictures with each other.
It's not the memory that Absegami High School seniors were looking for, but it's definitely one that will go down in the books.
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