Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Family of Fort Myers boy struck by lightning asks for prayers

Chuck Watlington, accompanied by his wife, Alda, talks about Jesse, 11,  their son who was struck by lightning Wednesday.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

Chuck Watlington, accompanied by his wife, Alda, talks about Jesse, 11, their son who was struck by lightning Wednesday.

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 bdavis@tampabay.com.

Family of Fort Myers boy struck by lightning asks for prayers 10/05/12 [Last modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 11:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies

    News

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  2. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  3. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  4. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin

    World

    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]
  5. Rays pitchers rave about Twins pitching coach, ex-mentor Neil Allen

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — There have been a lot of coaches who have had a hand in helping Chris Archer get to the big leagues and to the front of the Rays rotation, and as he took the mound Friday night at Target Field, he had reason to nod appreciatively toward the home dugout.

    In their third year with pitching coach Neil Allen, the Twins have been one of the surprises of the American League.