ALL AROUND GOOD KID
Jan Brookins attended Detroit’s Denby High school where he ran track. He was known around the neighborhood as a fair-minded and sportsmanlike teenager. He often planned activities and refereed games for the neighborhood kids at the play lot next to his house. Frederick and Jean Brookins moved into the east side neighborhood at Rossiter and Grayton when Jan was a baby in 1940.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
In early September 1957, Jan and his friend Gary were practicing on the outdoor high school track at Denby High School when a thunderstorm hit. As they began running towards the locker room, Brookins was struck in the chest by a bolt of lightning. He was dead on arrival at Saratoga General Hospital. He was 17.
On January 15, 1959, the Detroit Common Council passed an ordinance to designate the empty lot next to the Brookin’s house as the “Jan A. Brookins Memorial Playground”. This small but tidy neighborhood playground is still used in 2014. A large sycamore anchors the corner of the playground which is stocked with newer play equipment. It seems that being struck by lightning is a freakish occurrence, yet National Geographic reports the odds of being the victim of a US lightning strike [during a one year period] are 1 in 700,000. Detroit lost a gem of a teenager that September day.