Lightning victim's family suing McGregor Baptist Church
EXCLUSIVE: Father tells Fox 4 this tragedy could have been prevented
LEE COUNTY - The family of a Fort Myers boy killed after being struck by lightning is filing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the church they once called their own. The family of Jesse Watlington announcing they are going after McGregor Baptist Church following the death of their son. Four in your Corner's Mike Mason is live in the studio with the details on why they are suing.
Chuck Watlington: "I want to go out there and I want to protect other kids so this never happens to anyone else's child."
Chuck Watlington says life has become unbearable since losing his 11-year old son, Jesse.
Chuck Watlington: "I just miss my son so much and I just can't wait to get to heaven to be with him."
Jesse was struck by lightning last month during football practice at his school; Southwest Florida Christian Academy. Chuck says since the tragedy, Senior Pastor Richard Powell has refused to talk about what happened that fateful day.
Chuck Watlington: "I forgive Senior Pastor Richard Powell, I'm praying for him every day and I'm praying for him to do the right thing. We're not looking to go after anybody we just want to make sure this never happens again."
Chuck has now hired prominent attorney Willie Gary and they plan to file a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the school and the church which runs it; McGregor Baptist. We don't know exactly what the lawsuit alleges but Chuck tells us he is angry with the church.
Chuck Watlington: "I asked him, I said 'listen’ I said ‘it's been 6 weeks now since my son died and you and none of your pastors have even come to my house one time to pray with me. You don't call to pray with me on the phone, it's like we're lepers."
We contacted Powell about this yesterday and he said: "I preached at his funeral, I want to take the high road, I don't want to refute what he said."
Chuck says he wants answers; such as whether coaches used a lightning measuring device on that tragic day as Pastor Powell told us last month.
Pastor Richard Powell: "As is our typical habit, the lightning measuring device that we had was operating.”
Chuck Watlington: "All the kids have the same story, the kids who were on the field with my son, there was just a handful of them; they've come forward with their mothers and they all told me they always saw that yellow box on the field and on this day it wasn't out there."
When we asked the pastor about the device he told us: "We always have lightning devices, but I don't know exactly where they were at the time."
And Chuck says most importantly; staff members told him the 2 coaches who were supervising Jesse and his team did not know CPR.
Although coaches at public schools are required to know CPR - private schools have their own rules.
Chuck says he also asked the school's safety director if a defibrillator could have saved Jesse.
Chuck Watlington: "It can restart a heart, he says, but we didn't have it that day on the field."
Pastor Powell would not comment about this. Chuck hopes by taking legal action he'll get some answers before this happens to anyone else.
Chuck Watlington: "Well, I trusted my kid in their care.....and he's in a cemetery right now."
Attorney Willie Gary plans to file the lawsuit Monday morning....alleging the church and school were negligent and reckless which resulted in Jesse's death.