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Missouri Police Officer Struck by Lightning

JOPLIN, Mo. --

A Riverside police officer was injured by a lightning strike while helping out with the tornado relief effort on Monday afternoon in Joplin.

Co-workers at the scene said Jeff Taylor, 31, officer had just finished driving a fire commander back to the command post on a Riverside police ATV and was standing next to the ATV when lightning hit the ground beside him. The lightning strike sent an electrical charge through Taylor.

Taylor, who has worked for the Riverside police since 2005, was treated for burns and other injuries. City officials said he is in critical condition in a Springfield hospital.

The city of Riverside had sent a contingent of six public works staff members, four police officers and two firefighters to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts following Sunday's EF5 tornado.

"I think a lot of people in the community are used to seeing him and his dog flash out at city events and helping with different police functions," said Meredith Houck, Riverside public information officer.

People were not surprised Taylor, a K-9 officer, was one of the first volunteers to step up in the wake of Joplin's tornado.

"He was an officer with Webb City, which is in the Joplin area, and so he has a knowledge of that area and friends and family down there," Houck said. "We're praying for a quick and full recovery."

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