Seven people, including a woman 25 weeks pregnant, participating in a Florida fishing tournament found themselves in a scary situation when their boat was struck by lightning while they were 100 miles away from shore.
Boaters who were 100 miles off the Florida coast when their boat was struck by lightning recounted the terrifying ordeal that knocked one person temporarily unconscious and the electronics on their vessel fried.
Tonya Albritton was with six other people participating in a fishing tournament 100 miles off the coast of Clearwater when they ran into a storm.
Facing wind gusts up to 35 miles an hour, 6-foot waves and nonstop lightning, the group decided it was time to turn back.
It wasn’t long before the vessel itself was struck by a bolt of lightning, video footage of the moment showed.
“Lightning just went boom, the light boom. and this explosion, all these plastic pieces are flying and hitting me in the face,” Albritton told Inside Edition.
Meghan Chaple, who is 25 weeks pregnant, and her boyfriend Joshua Guy were also onboard. He was hit by the lightning and briefly knocked unconscious.
“In that situation, I was thinking, ‘What if I have to get in the water and swim?’” Chaple told Inside Edition.
Guy quickly recovered and sprang into action.
“He is perfectly okay and was able to step up with our boat captain and help keep everyone safe and calm,” Chaple wrote on Facebook.
As passengers rushed below deck, co-captain Glenn Rumer used an emergency position indicating radio beacon, or an EPIRB, to send a distress signal to the U.S. Coast Guard, since the lightning completely disabled the boats’ electronics. Rescuers found the stricken vessel two hours later.
“A Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew hoisted the five women and two men without medical concerns, and returned them to the air station where family greeted them,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.
U.S. Coast Guard pilot Lt. David McKinley told Inside Edition it is incredibly rare for a moving boat to be struck by lightning.
“It doesn’t happen very often. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of it happening, especially so far offshore,” he said.