Wants to Know
Confusion over lightning detection device after boy dies
11 year old dies after lightning strike, media reports questioned
LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Some confusion over whether Southwest Florida Christian Academy was using a lightning detection device the day Jesse was struck. Jesse's family tells Fox 4 they want to know exactly what happened. Four in your Corner's Mike Mason getting answers tonight.
The pastor of the church that runs the school told us a device was being used by the coaches, but one media report stated the pastor later changed his story. Tonight, we're setting the record straight.
The family of 11-year old Jesse Watlington telling Fox 4 they haven't seen or read any media reports about Jesse since he was struck by lightning last week. Last Friday, at Tampa General Hospital they rarely left his bedside.
Chuck Watlington: "I talk to him, I kiss him and tell him, you know....."
Alda Watlington: "He's somebody who's touched people's lives, has always been."
When we met with Jesse's parents he was still in a coma. His family was praying for a miracle.
Chuck Watlington: "Whenever I would meet somebody who had lost a child in an accident of some kind I would always give them a hug and say 'I just don't know what it's like but I can only just give you a hug and I'm praying for you' and I truly thought I knew but I never did until now."
Jesse's father, Chuck, told us he wanted to know what really happened to his son. A local newspaper reported Southwest Florida Christian Academy did not have a lightning detection device, even though Pastor Richard Powell told us they did.
Pastor Richard Powell: "As is our typical habit, the lightning measuring device that we had was operating."
Today, Pastor Powell telling us the school does have a portable lightning detector and the newspaper article was incorrect. He says the school does not have a device that warns of possible lightning before a storm moves in. He says he only knows of a couple of schools that have one. We found they can be pricey; upwards of a thousand dollars. But as the Watlington's know all too well; it's a small price to pay if it can save a life.
Chuck Watlington: "He's just such a sweet boy he's a good kid, never misbehaved his whole life he was always so kind, so considerate, so loving of everybody. He was just a special kid."
The pastor says the school is looking into purchasing an early warning device. If you'd like to donate one to McGregor Baptist Church - which runs the school Jesse attended -- call them at 239-936-1754.