Teen Helping to Repair Hurricane Damaged
Roof Struck by Lightning
Fifteen year-old Whit Watson was staying
with relatives in Sebring Park, when he decided to travel to Port
Charlotte with an uncle to help repair the hurricane-damaged roof
of a relative in the Deep Creek area.
The teenager was standing on the roof
of the house helping his uncle and another man patch a hole ripped
open when Hurricane Charley roared through. As he stood holding
a piece of plastic, a lightning bolt shot out of a seemingly clear
sky and struck him in the back of the head, then exited his left
foot. His work boot exploded and the left side of his clothes were
ripped in a straight line. He was left with severe burns.
As the bolt shot down through the roof
of the house in a fireball, Whit, a high school freshman, fell in
a lifeless heap. His heart had stopped.
A nearby postman flagged down ambulance
crew members that just happened to be down the street from where
the accident happened. Luckily the paramedics saw the postman waving
his arms in an attempt to alert them about the severely injured
Since Hurricane Charly's arrival, many
phone line in the area have been down and often cell phones can't
The paramedics responded in minutes
and managed to get his heart going with a jolt from a defibrillator.
Watson was taken to Tampa General Hospital
where he lay in a drug-induced coma, and doctors warned his parents
not to expect too much.
The doctors warned that Whit suffered
some brain damage because of lack of oxygen when his heart stopped.
They say it may take as long as two years to determine the full
Miracle in progress
Now, less than two months after the
mid August accident, Whit is reasonably alert and can walk a little,
although he's still struggling with vision problems and short-term
memory. He was listed in fair condition at Tampa General Hospital.
His father, Hank Watson calls Whit
"a miracle in progress."
"I feel OK, I guess," Whit
said, adding that he wished he was able to see better. He is undergoing
physical and speech therapy. Whit and his family hopes that he will
get to go home in time for his 16th birthday- November 10.
"They never thought he'd get this
far," Hank Watson said of the doctors who have been treating
his son. "He's got some of them scratching their heads."
Whit doesn't remember anything about
what happened to him. It's only been in the past week or so that
he's become aware of his surroundings and could recognize his family.
Doctors say he should continue to regain his faculties.
"I want to go home," Whit
His family says that a huge homecoming
party is already in the works.