Parents struck by lightning on Sanibel with their two young children nearby

Published: July 24, 2021 5:55 PM EDT
Updated: July 26, 2021 11:00 PM EDT

Two people were struck by lightning Saturday afternoon on Sanibel, according to Sanibel Fire Rescue District.

That flash of light sent people running and sent a young couple to the hospital.

It happened on the beach right behind the Sanibel Beach Club at 626 Nerita Street just before 5 p.m. Beachgoers describe the weather at the time as “sunny.” And although they saw storms in the distance, they said the lightning bolt came out of nowhere.

Michael Sainero lives on Sanibel and says he could feel the heat of the lightning from his home. “I felt, like, the heat from the lightning bolt and heard it immediately afterward. I mean, it was one of the loudest bolts I’ve ever heard.”

Ana Marie Carr is a guest at the Sanibel Beach Club. “Just a lot of commotion. Just a lot of people doing the best they can but in a hurry,” Carr said.

The City of Sanibel says the man and woman were husband and wife. Families watched in horror as the two were struck and the lightning only nearly missed the children.

Keri Fischer is a guest at the Sanibel Beach Club. “No matter where it happens that’s horrible and tragic, but you know it was closer to home when we found out that it was residents of the Sanibel Beach club where we were staying as well,” said Fischer.

When first responders arrived on the scene, they found beachgoers attempting to perform CPR on the man. He was located lying on his back. The woman was conscious and breathing. Once Sanibel Police officers arrived, they took over life-saving measures.

The husband and wife were then both transported to Lee Memorial Hospital. The couple’s children were on the scene and were later reunited with their grandparents.

The children, age two and five, were brought to officers by another couple saying that the children belonged to the husband and wife struck by lightning.

Since lightning was located in the area still, the children were provided shelter by officers in the back of a patrol car.

“I can’t imagine my kids seeing something like that. It gives me. It gives me goosebumps,” Fischer said.

We learned the lightning strike that hit them is very uncommon. The WINK News radar picked up that lightning strike 6 miles away from the storm. It’s called a bolt from the blue.

“That’s where the lightning can come in from the side of the storm and then potentially strike upwards 5 10 if not more miles away from the thunderstorm,” Chief Meteorologist Matt Devitt explained.

Our chief meteorologist told us these bolts from the blue happen occasionally, especially during summer storms

“They’re equally as destructive as our typical thunderstorms, where you have the lightning right under the storm,” Devitt said.

It’s a reminder to go inside when you hear thunder no matter where you are.

Because the woman was alert in the back of the ambulance, she requested that her children ride with her to the hospital. The children were then reunited with their mother.

Now, those at the tight-knit Sanibel Beach Club community are praying for the safety of the couple and their kids.

“If they were staying here they’re like family because we always come the same week every year,” said Carr.

“Our hearts go out to their family,” Fischer said.

The family’s church in South Carolina posted both husband and wife remained in the hospital Monday night. The husband was in critical condition, while his wife was slowly recovering.

The church in South Carolina is planning to pray and help raise money at 7 p.m. Tuesday for family meals.