Florida woman killed, 4 others hurt by lightning strike

Hamilton County sheriff says victims hit while taking shelter from storm

By Erik Avanier - Reporter, Josh Williams - Producer, Roxy Tyler - Web producer

WHITE SPRINGS, Fla. - A lightning strike killed a Florida woman and left four other people hurt as Saturday afternoon storms swept through Hamilton County, authorities said.

It happened as people took cover under part of a travel trailer at Woodpecker Mud Bog in White Springs, Hamilton County Sheriff Harrell Reid said, according to the Suwannee Democrat.

The woman, 23-year-old Kourtney Lambert of Branford, was struck when a lightning bolt hit a tree and then surged toward the trailer, the Democrat reported.

Sheriff Reid said the four survivors were treated and released.

"We did CPR. We tried to bring her back. She was gone," one witness said.

Information from the National Weather Service suggests the incident happened shortly before 3 p.m.

"Prayers for the people hit by lightning at the Woodpecker Mud Bog," one person wrote on Facebook.

                                         Lightning safety tips

There's no question about it -- lightning is very dangerous and even deadly at times, therefore, when the Weather Authority meteorologists warn that thunder and lightning is in the forecast you should respond accordingly.

According to the National Weather Service, there are several things you should keep in mind when thunder roars and lightning strikes:

1. Appoint someone to watch the skies during your outdoor work or recreation. Check the latest thunderstorm forecast on News4Jax.com, your Weather Authority weather app and monitor the NOAA Weather Radio.

2. When thunder roars, go indoors and stay there for 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.

3. When lightning is in your vicinity, go quickly inside a completely closed building. Do not consider carports, open garages, covered patios, or pavilions as adequate shelter. If no closed building is convenient, get inside a hard-topped all-metal vehicle.

4. Do not take shelter under a tree, especially if it is tall and isolated.

5. Get out of the water. This includes pools, lakes, rivers, oceans, water rides, and even puddled water.

6. Get off the beach.

7. Put down metal objects such as fishing poles, golf clubs, tennis rackets, tools. etc. 

8. Dismount from tractors and heavy construction equipment. Do not seek shelter under the equipment. 
Move away from metal objects such as metal fences, metal sheds, telephone and power lines, pipelines, etc. 

You should also keep in mind that there are a number of misconceptions when it comes to lightning safety, so here are some myths that have been debunked with reliable facts.

Myth: Cars are safe because the rubber tires insulate them from the ground.

Truth: Rubber tires provide no protection from lightning.  Cars are safe because of their metal shell and steel frame. Convertibles are not safe.

Myth: Lightning-strike victims are electrified and should not be touched.

Truth: Lightning-strike victims carry no residual electrical charge. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid.

Myth: If it is not raining, then there is no danger from lightning.

Truth: Lightning often strikes outside of the rain area to as much as 10 miles (even greater distances in exceptional situations).

Myth: Heat lightning occurs after very hot summer days and poses no hazard.

Truth: Heat lightning is a term used to describe lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for the thunder to be heard. The lightning hazard increases as you move toward the storm and   eventually the thunder will also be heard.

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.