Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

Family of Fort Myers boy struck by lightning asks for prayers

TAMPA— After his 11-year-old son took a lightning bolt to the heart, Chuck Watlington is pleading for prayers.

"There's no change. He's in a coma," Watlington said, hugging his wife Friday at a news conference outside Tampa General Hospital. "He's, by the grace of God, lucky to be alive."

Fort Myers sixth-grader Jesse Watlington was in critical condition Friday afternoon after lightning struck him during football practice at Southwest Florida Christian School on Wednesday.

Tubes protrude from his nose and wires snake out of his nightgown.

His parents—who are staying at Ronald McDonald House Charities in Tampa—have been by his side constantly, Chuck Watlington said.

McGregor Baptist Church in Fort Myers, which calls the school one of its ministries, set up a donation fund to help with the family's medical expenses, and hundreds packed the church's pews Thursday to pray for Jesse, Watlington said.

Christian football teams around the country have been wearing Jesse's number, 51, Watlington said.

"He's a little boy who has never misbehaved in his whole life," Watlington added. "He's the sweetest, quietest little kid, everybody loves him."

Watlington also thanked his pastor and the football coaches who delivered the CPR that kept Jesse alive as medical help was on the way.

Paramedics first transported the dark-haired boy to Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers. He was transferred to HealthPark Medical Center, and then was brought to Tampa General by helicopter.

Jesse, one of the smallest players on his middle school football team, is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

He was the first player out on the field when he was struck, his dad said.

His teammates felt the lightning's electricity surge but were unharmed. It wasn't raining.

"We ask for continued prayer, and for him to regain consciousness," Watlington said.

Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at (850) 323-0353 or [email protected]

Comments
Casino boat operator in fatal fire had maintenance, safety issues before earlier blaze

Casino boat operator in fatal fire had maintenance, safety issues before earlier blaze

PORT RICHEY — The casino boat operator whose shuttle caught fire Sunday, leaving one passenger dead, says it does not know what could have caused the blaze.But federal records show the company, now called Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, had another boat...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Goodbye 70s. Hello freeze watch. Cold spell headed for Tampa Bay.

Goodbye 70s. Hello freeze watch. Cold spell headed for Tampa Bay.

Did everyone enjoy the cool, sunny weather? Because it’s over now.It’s about to get very chilly, Tampa Bay. A rush of arctic air is headed our way, bringing another cold spell. Daytime temperatures will be in the low 60s on Wednesday, but overnight t...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Thanks Twitter: Fakesters pose as jackpot winner Shane Missler

Thanks Twitter: Fakesters pose as jackpot winner Shane Missler

Jackpot winner and Florida man Shane Missler wants to leave behind a legacy with his winnings.But he won’t be doing that by doling out cash to Twitter followers.PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Florida man, 20, claims $450M Mega Millions jackpotAn account cunningl...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Hillsborough County firefighter gets the ax after investigators find ties to motorcycle gang

Hillsborough County firefighter gets the ax after investigators find ties to motorcycle gang

TAMPA — Hillsborough County officials fired a Fire Rescue medic Tuesday after an internal investigation concluded he had "unwavering loyalty" to the Outlaws Motorcycle Club — the state’s dominant biker gang.Clinton Neal Walker, 33, of Bradenton is th...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year is a self-described "busy, busy bee" who never tires of exploring new ways to help students learn, even if she has to be creative.At 56, Bonnie Bresnyan also is a mentor for the next generation of s...
Updated: 1 hour ago

St. Pete officer suspended for month after pushing concert guard

ST. PETERSBURG — A police officer was suspended for a month after he pushed a security guard at a summer concert in Tampa, according to St. Petersburg police.It could have been worse: Chief Tony Holloway determined Officer Curtis Wright could have be...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bangladesh, Myanmar agree to Rohingya repatriation timeline; Madsen charged in journalist Wall’s death; more in world news

Bangladesh, Myanmar agree to Rohingya repatriation timeline; Madsen charged in journalist Wall’s death; more in world news

South AsiaNations plan Rohingya returnBangladesh and Myanmar have agreed that they will try to complete within two years the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled from violence in Myanmar, Bangladesh’s Foreign Min...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Italian Butterfingers? Nestle selling candy business for $2.9B

Italian Butterfingers? Nestle selling candy business for $2.9B

Associated PressNEW YORK — Swiss food and drink giant Nestle is selling its U.S. candy business to Italy’s Ferrero for about $2.9 billion in cash. Ferrero will take over iconic chocolate brands Butterfinger and Crunch bars, as well as the sugary Nerd...
Updated: 1 hour ago
In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

Separate accreditation has long been a point of pride and a stamp of independence for the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee branches of the University of South Florida.Graduates of those schools frame diplomas bearing the name of their own universi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
School board member is ‘dumbfounded’ by Times report on Hillsborough substitute teachers

School board member is ‘dumbfounded’ by Times report on Hillsborough substitute teachers

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District should reconsider how it hires substitute teachers, and that conversation should happen publicly, School Board member Lynn Gray said Tuesday.Responding to a Tampa Bay Times article published Sunday , G...
Updated: 2 hours ago