Georgia teen Walker Bethune (pictured) died Wednesday afternoon, 11 days after being struck by lightning on a Florida beach.
A Georgia teen died Wednesday afternoon, 11 days after being struck by lightning on a Florida beach.
The teen was one of five people struck by lightning on beaches in southwest Florida over a 10-day period in July. Naples Daily News reported.
Walker Bethune, 17, was only a few feet away from his family at Tigertail Beach, where they were vacationing on July 17, when he was beaten, according to Marco Island police.
“Please know that today’s update comes with a heavy heart for all of us who love Walker,” his family said on social media on Wednesday evening.
“He passed away peacefully this afternoon, listening to one of his favorite Allman Brothers songs, aptly named ‘Soulshine.'”
Police said they arrived at the scene at 3:51 p.m., shortly after the lightning strike, and saw Bethune’s father, David, administer CPR to his son, who did not respond.
They successfully resuscitated him on the spot.
He was rushed to a local hospital in nearby Naples and then airlifted to another hospital in Miami.
Bethune was with family at Tigertail Beach on July 17 when he was struck by lightning that afternoon
Bethune was a senior at Stratford Academy in Macon, Georgia, the school reported. He was one of five people to be attacked on beaches in southwest Florida over a 10-day period, and the only one to have died so far.
However, on Monday, friend Julie Chandler reported that Bethune’s brain had begun to swell.
“Please continue in BIG BOLD FIERCE prayer for Walker’s brain and swelling. The goal was to keep him very calm and stable today, and we succeeded,” she wrote.
Bethune was a senior at Stratford Academy in Macon Georgia, the school reported on Facebook.
“Tonight we received the heartbreaking news that Walker Bethune has passed away from injuries sustained in his tragic accident,” the school wrote. “You have prayed fervently for Walker and his family for the past 11 days and we ask you not to stop. Walker was loved by everyone in our school family and we support his family and friends during this excruciatingly difficult time.”
Bethune’s favorite song was “sunshine” by the Allman Brothers Band, his family said
Bethune’s school also reported his death
He was one of five people struck by lightning for 10 days on beaches in southwest Florida in July Naples Daily News reported.
On Monday, a 12-year-old girl and a 38-year-old man were hit by a car on a beach in northern Naples and are in stable condition, the outlet said.
In addition, a married couple from South Carolina was visited in Sanibel on Saturday.
Their church identified the two as Brent and Kristen Jerome. Brent is still in critical condition.
Bethune’s will be the fourth fatal accident in the United States in 2021, and the second to have occurred on a beach, according to the National Weather Service.
According to the National Weather Service, an average of about 49 people are killed by lightning in the U.S. and hundreds are injured each year
It’s also likely the first to take place in Florida this year, though the agency hasn’t updated its tally since July 20.
On June 12, a 15-year-old girl visiting with her family from Alabama was killed by lightning while swimming in the waters off Tybee Island, Georgia.
She was hit around 2:30 p.m. that Saturday and rushed to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.
On average, 49 people are killed by lightning every year in the US.
In 2020, 17 people died.
A lightning warning was issued on Marco Island at 2:15 p.m. the day Bethune was hit, Bob Dugan chief executive officer and president of Thor Guard, a floodlight warning system in southwest Florida, told the Naples Daily News.
The warning ended at 4:03 p.m., just over 10 minutes after police and an ambulance arrived on the scene.
“That was the last attack of the storm,” Dugan said.