Father of boy killed by lightning speaks for first time since death
Jesse Watlington's story touched the world
FORT MYERS, Fla. - The father of a boy struck and killed by lightning last month ... speaking out for the first time since the tragedy. Fox 4 getting a personal glimpse into how the Watlington family is dealing with the loss. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason sharing their story.
It has been about 6 weeks since Jesse Watlington died after being struck by lightning.....and tonight his father tells us how his family is dealing with this tragedy.
Chuck Watlington: "We left his room the way he left it, we haven't changed anything to the room."
This room and these photos are all Chuck Watlington has left to remind him of his son Jesse.
Chuck Watlington: "He loved going to Disney, we've always had annual passes probably for the past 10 years in a row."
On October 3rd the Watlington family was torn apart. 11-year old Jesse was on the football field at Southwest Florida Christian Academy in Fort Myers.
Chuck Watlington: "They noticed that the sky was black and the storm was really pretty scary looking, according to the kids, and one of them yelled out, “Did you see that lightning?” Lightning danced across the sky and then about a minute later another kid yelled out that he saw a lightning strike."
Jesse took a direct hit to the chest and was taken to Tampa General Hospital.....a photo shows how he was hooked up to machines....on his bed the teddy bear he's had since the day he was born. Just four hours earlier....this photo was taken of Jesse....it happened to be picture day at school.
Since the tragedy....people from around the world have reached out to the Watlingtons. The Tampa Bay Bucs sending this autographed football.....sympathy cards pouring in from friends and family....politicians and even Tim Tebow.
Chuck Watlington: "We wish you the best and certainly continue to pray for you, is Tim Tebow."
After spending four days at the hospital....the doctors told the Watlingtons there was no chance for Jesse.
Chuck Watlington: "I said please tell me 1%, he put his head down and said, ‘no’. He says, it's 100% that he's going to go and he's going to go in the next 24 hours. They went ahead and they turned off the respirator and his heart just slowly stopped in about 15 minutes."
The Watlington family will never be the same without Jesse, he will always be their little boy with the big smile.
Chuck Watlington: "Our hearts have been torn out of our chests. All four of us were one. I always had a worry that I would die of a heart attack or a stroke before he would grow up to reach the age of 18. So my prayer is constantly, 'please lord allow me to live long enough to see him grow up and have kids and little did I know it would be the other way around."
Jesse's football jersey - number 51 - was retired by his teammates....and football teams from across the country wore that number in honor of Jesse after he died.