Coast Guard: 7 rescued after lighting strikes boat 100 miles off Clearwater
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Seven people taking part in a fishing tournament had to be rescued Saturday after their boat was struck by lightning off the coast of Clearwater.
Incredible video shows the moment lightning hit the boat about 100 miles off the coast of Clearwater.
"There was just the biggest flash like light bulbs right in your face," boat passenger Sherrie Kelley said.
Kelley, who can be seen wearing a blue and white hoodie in the video, was sitting right next to her brother Glenn Rumer. In the video, the lightning bolts appear to strike right between them.
"The electricity traveled up the outrigger and that ended up breaking in half and that's what part of it was on fire and the rest looked like frayed metal," Kelley said.
The group of seven were participating in the fishing tournament when they got caught up in a storm. As they headed back to shore, their friend Josh started filming the storm when he caught the lightning strike on camera.
"The electricity from the lightning actually went through him and caused him to black out and go to the floor. That's why you'll see the camera all of a sudden go to the floor and see my sister's shoe and then his leg. He came to immediately, but it was just kind of like, 'whoa'," Rumer said.
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Amazingly, no one was seriously injured, but the strike did damage the boat's engine leaving the group stranded. Thankfully Rumer--who has more than 40 years of experience on the water--was prepared with an emergency position-indicating radio beacon otherwise known as an EPIRB. Once activated, the device transmits a continuous radio signal allowing search and rescue teams to find their location.
"Knowing the importance of being safe on the water is critical. I've never ever had to use it. Thank God. It worked when it was supposed to," Rumer said. After about two hours a rescue helicopter with the U.S. Coast Guard arrived at the scene and one by one all seven passengers were lifted into the helicopter by a basket.
The scary hours-long ordeal was finally over with everyone safe and able to tell the story of what is sure to be their most unforgettable day on the water.
"Honestly, they were angels in the sky. It was a relief. It was Thank you, God. Yes," Rumer said.
The group's boat has since been towed back to shore, but they say it'll likely be a total loss.