Story By Jason Hackett, News 13 Reporter:
An Alabama family is dealing with a sudden tragedy tonight. As storms rocked the Panhandle Monday, a father and son tried to make it to shelter during a vacation trip to Shell Island.
"They were getting ready to go back home today is my understanding, they wanted to go out for one last walk," said Ruth Corley with the Bay County Sheriff's Office.
Corley said the family had been staying on a boat near the island for a couple of days.
"The weather got bad, and they decided to go back to the boat," Corley said.
14-year-old Tristan Barger had an ankle injury. His stepfather, 42-year-old James Keith Brown, decided to carry him on his back, like any father would. Then, a sudden strike
"The mother turned around after hearing it and found them both face down on the sand," Corley said.
Brown was pronounced dead on the scene. Barger was rushed to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola in critical condition by ambulance, due to the nasty weather. It's the second death by strike in Florida this year, and the 19th nationwide.
In a state where a beautiful beach day can change in a flash, what do you do if you're suddenly caught outside in a storm?
Some recommend the 'Lightning Crouch' position, where you crouch as low as you can to the ground, minimizing contact with the ground by balancing on the balls of your feet. It's long been thought of as the best way to avoid an outside lightning strike.
However, the National Weather Service says it isn't necessarily the best way to avoid a strike. Your best bet - get indoors immediately.
It appears as if that's where the father and son duo were heading, but unfortunately for them it was too little too late.
Your car is another safe place to ride out a thunderstorm. Of course to avoid that situation all together, stay tuned to News 13's First Alert Weather team and watch for potential weather dangers as you plan your day.
UPDATE: A father was killed and his stepson seriously injured in a lightning strike on Shell Island Monday.
Forty-two-year-old James Keith Brown was pronounced dead at the scene after being struck by lightning on the island around noon Monday. His stepson, 14-year-old Tristan Barger was seriously injured in the same strike. Both were from Chelsea, AL, just south of Birmingham.
First responders from the Bay County Sheriff's Office, the Panama City Fire Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Emergency Medical Services of Bay Medical Center responded to the scene.
The stepson has been transferred to a hospital in Pensacola, driven there by ambulance this afternoon.
One person was killed and another seriously injured in a lightning strike on Shell Island around noon today.
According to Stan Kirkland of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, they received a call for assistance to the Kiddie Pool area at St. Andrew State Park. Kirkland said that they were assisting the U.S. Coast Guard, Panama City Fire and Emergency Medical Services in the rescue.
Emergency responders at the Panama City Marina reported one person was killed and a teenager was taken to a local hospital.
Kirkland said he has no other details at this time. News 13 has a reporter on the scene and will provide more details when they become available.