In a tragic accident, a Fort Worth teen was struck by lightning while on a family vacation in Florida.

According to reporting by 5 NBCDFW, 14-year-old Jacob Brewer was on a family vacation in Florida when the incident occurred. The North Texas family was visiting the beach in Siesta Key when a sudden storm moved into the area. According to Jacob’s mom, they were packing up to leave when they saw a flash of light and heard the strike.

The strike knocked her to the ground. She looked over at Jacob, who was on the ground and foaming at the mouth. Jacob’s shirt had a hole in it where the lightning struck him.

An off-duty law enforcement officer began CPR. An on-duty sheriff’s deputy and a bystander joined in to help. Doctor’s informed the family that CPR saved Jacob’s life, as he did not have a pulse for more than 45 minutes.

Jacob remains in serious condition at a Florida hospital. He had to undergo surgery to improve circulation because the lightning strike shrunk the veins in his body. It is unclear how long Jacob will remain in the hospital.

According to Jacob’s sister, he responded to her when she visited him. Jacob will be in 9th grade at Timber Creek High School this year. 

Lightning Strikes in Texas 

In the United States, there are approximately 25 million lightning strikes each year. Over 20 people are killed and hundreds of people are severely injured in lightning strikes each year. While most lighting occurs during the summer months, lightning can strike people any time of the year.

As of July 29, 2020, there have been nine lightning fatalities in the U.S. A 51-year-old man in China, Texas, was the third person to die this year from lightning strikes. The activity reported at the time of the strike was construction in a subdivision. 

Texas led the nation in lightning strikes in 2019, with over 47.3 million strikes recorded in the state. Texas had more than three times the second-highest state on the list, which was Oklahoma with just over 14.7 million lightning strikes last year.

The odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 1,220,000. However, that does not mean that it cannot happen to anyone at any time. 

A man in Southeast Texas was struck by lightning while walking his dogs in October. The man has burn marks and lost hearing in one ear from the lightning strike.

There were 20 deaths from lightning strikes in 2019. Three of the lightning deaths were in Texas:

  • May 3, 2019, a 48-year-old man was struck and killed while camping in a state park in San Angelo
  • On June 6, 2019, a 21 year-old-man was struck and killed while unloading shingles on a rooftop in San Antonio
  • On June 27, 2019, a 55-year-old man was killed while landscaping in Spring

In addition to the deaths caused by lightning each year, hundreds of people sustain catastrophic injuries that often result in permanent disabilities.

How to Avoid the Dangers of Lightning

You cannot control the weather, but you can take precautions to avoid being struck by lightning. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, always check the local weather forecast if you plan to be outside. If you are outside when a storm approaches, use the 30-30 Rule to know when to seek shelter.

When you see lightning, begin counting. Seek shelter immediately if you count 30 seconds or less between the time you see the lightning and hear the thunder. 

A house or similar building with wiring and plumbing in the walls is the safest shelter in most cases. If you cannot get to a house or a similar structure, a car with a metal roof and metal sides is a good second choice. Once in the vehicle, keep your hands in your lap and do not touch anything.

In situations in which you cannot get to a shelter, avoid things like:

  • Wide-open areas
  • Higher elevations
  • Bodies of water or water-related activities like swimming, boating, or fishing
  • Tall objects, like trees and poles
  • Open vehicles, such as golf carts, construction vehicles, and riding lawn mowers
  • Metal bleachers and fences
  • Pavilions, bus stops, and other unprotected open buildings

If you cannot get inside, separate yourself from others in the group, and crouch down. Put your feet together, tuck your head, and cover your ears. Limit contact with the ground and never lay down.

For more lightning safety information, you can visit the websites for National Weather Service, CDC, and OSHA.

Lightning Strikes on the Jobsite

Individuals who work outside are at risk for lighting injuries, especially workers on construction sites or people who work with heavy equipment. Employers should have safety policies in place for storms and lightning. Workers need to know the safety procedures and what they should do in the event of a storm.

If a worker is injured on the job by a lightning strike, the worker may receive benefits under the Texas workers’ compensation system. In some cases, a worker may also have a third-party claim against another party if the lightning injury was caused by negligence or other wrongdoing. A workers’ compensation lawyer can review the case to determine what claims are available to the worker.