A teenager from Georgia tragically passed away this week after being struck by lightning in front of his family while on vacation in Florida.
The Naples Daily News reported that 17 year-old William “Walker” Bethune of Macon passed away on Wednesday due to injuries he’d sustained from being struck by lightning on July 17 on Tigertail Beach in Marco Island.
Police said that Bethune had been walking on the beach with his family when he asked his dad for a baseball cap. The family watched in horror as Bethune was struck by a lightning bolt as he put the hat on.
Bob Dugan, CEO and president of Thor Guard, a lightning prediction and warning company with approximately 150 stations across Southwest Florida, said that a thunderstorm was moving away from the island when the lightning bolt struck Bethune.
“That was the last strike from the storm,” he added.
Bethune was rushed to Physician’s Regional Hospital in Naples and later airlifted to a hospital in Miami, where he passed away this week.
“He passed away peacefully this afternoon, listening to one of his favorite Allman Brothers songs, appropriately named ‘Soulshine,'” his family said as they announced his death.
A family friend had said earlier in the week that Bethune was suffering from swelling of the brain.
“Our hearts feel an unimaginable pain, but through this journey you have taken with us, we hope that you have found inspiration to draw nearer to God,” the family added. “We continue to feel your prayers, love, and comfort, and ask that in the coming days, weeks, and months that you will keep our family close in your prayers.”
Bethune was a rising senior at Stratford Academy, which also released a statement confirming his death.
“Tonight, we received the heartbreaking news that Walker Bethune passed away from his injuries sustained during his tragic accident,” the school wrote on Facebook. “You have fervently prayed for Walker and his family over the last 11 days, and we ask that you do not stop. Walker was loved by all within our school family, and we lift up his family and friends during this unbearably difficult time.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with Bethune’s family during this difficult time.