SEBASTIAN INLET, Fla. - A 12-year-old child and her mother are expected to survive after being hit by lightning on Monday afternoon.
The young girl took the brunt of the strike, according to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, but the mother was knocked to the ground because of the power coming from the bolt.
Longtime Floridians who were at the Inlet on the same day are worried not enough people take storms seriously.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said Monday’s afternoon storms were normal and didn’t meet the severe criteria, but any lightning strike can be deadly. Being outside, at the beach, is a terrible place to be during a storm because there is nothing to protect people. This incident is another reminder to take storms seriously and stay inside longer than you may think.
"You could see the darkness coming in," said Brenda Tarquinio who is always watching out for fast-approaching storms.
She spent the day at Sebastian Inlet with her husband on Monday but knew it was time to go when storms started rolling in.
"When we left, there were still a lot of fishermen out," she added. "There were families."
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She is devastated to learn that a 12-year-old girl was hit and worries not enough people take lightning seriously.
"Is it worth it? Is it worth risking your life? You don’t know the predictability of that storm," Tarquinio said. "You don’t know how far-reaching that lightning is, and so I’m always going to err on the side of caution."
The storm at Sebastian Inlet was a normal Florida shower, according to the NWS.
"Unfortunately, that’s when people are caught off guard because they believe conditions are improving when in fact they are not," said Will Ulrich who’s the Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
He said the heaviest rain was over, but lightning lingered.
"People should not begin to resume outdoor activities until at least 15 minutes after the latest crack of thunder occurs in their location," Ulrich said.
Lightning strikes almost every afternoon in Central Florida, and injuries are preventable if people stay inside and take storms seriously.
"We always think of hurricanes being the storm of Florida, but honestly it’s lightning to me – it always has been lightning ever since I was a kid," she concluded.
Both the girl and her mother are expected to survive this strike. Tarquinio is very cautious when it comes to storms because she watched someone get struck by lightning and die when she was a child. She wants more people to know the risks, so they can stay safe during a storm.