After settling out of court in a confidential agreement with Mcgregor Baptist Church, the Watlington family says it's time to move on - no matter how hard it will be. Last year, their 11-year-old son, Jesse, was struck and killed by lightning on his way to football practice on church grounds.
Chuck Watlington, Jesse's father, and his family now live in Orlando. WINK News spoke with chuck about how the family is doing and what is next in an exclusive interview.
"This knocked 20 years off of my life," Watlington said. "And I'm 55 years old now, so. I'm just thankful that this happened much later in my life than much younger, that I can be reunited in heaven with my son."
Watlington says the first thing he, his wife and his daughter want to do, is grieve. For the last year the family has been distracted with litigation, but since that is now over, Watlington says it's time.
"We want to also open a foundation in Jesse's name," Watlington said. "And we're going to donate to under-privileged kids for college educations. Also we want to purchase lightning detection systems for small little private schools who don't have the funding. We want to make this go on for decades and decades."
"I want it to be Jesse's foundation," he said. "I want to do what Jesse would want us to do. And I have some pretty good ideas you know, what he would want us to do. And we're going to do them."
The grieving father says he also wants to change some laws. Watlington says he wants make the same laws for private schools as it is for public schools. Meaning, every coach in the state of Florida must be certified to know CPR, and how to use an AED deliberator.
Watlington's tone, as much as his words, tell the story of a father who lost more than he can ever tell. He says the sudden death of his son his him "50 times a day" and he, and his family, are still in shock.
"Nothing will bring any healing for this. It's just going to allow us to go forward and allow us to focus on my wife and focus on my daughter. They've gone through so much, you know," watlington said. "It's unbelievable. My daughter and my wife, they're both strong. They're actually stronger than I am. Do they cry every day? Yes. I think of my son every 3 seconds. No matter what I'm talking about in a conversation, I see him, I feel him. You know, I just can't get over it."
The Watlington family tells WINK News they have decided to exhume Jesse's body and move it to Orlando to be closer to family.