Fri. 9:18 a.m.: Georgia high school student dies after lightning strike

MACON, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia high school senior struck by lightning while on vacation in Florida with his family has died.

Walker Bethune, 17, died Wednesday. His family said he did so peacefully, listening to one of his favorite Allman Brothers songs, “Soulshine.”

Bethune was hit by lightning July 17 while walking on a beach with his family in Marco Island, Florida. His father was with him when it happened and administered CPR until emergency medical technicians arrived, WMAZ-TV reported. The teen was flown to the Ryder Trauma Center at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, University of Miami Health.

He showed signs of improvement late last week but the family updated that he was dealing with brain swelling, The Telegraph reported.

“Walker has finished his race here on Earth. The Lord has received our angel,” Julie Chandler wrote Wednesday on behalf of Bethune’s family on his CaringBridge page.

Bethune was the incoming senior class president at Stratford Academy, which also held a prayer vigil for him.

“He’s an absolutely phenomenal young man. He’s a go-getter, he’s compassionate, he’s hardworking,” said Headmaster Logan Bowlds of Bethune.

Stratford Academy Key Club also planned a CPR training class and blood donation drive in honor of Bethune as the community hoped for his recovery.

“Our hearts feel an unimaginable pain, but through this journey you have taken with us, we hope that you have found inspiration to draw nearer to God. We continue to feel your prayers, love, and comfort, and ask that in the coming days, weeks, and months that you will keep our family close in your prayers,” Chandler wrote.

Earlier this week, a pair of third-grade students raised more than $500 through a lemonade stand. In addition, a GoFundMe was set up to help the family with more than $19,000 raised.


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