July 24, 2014

Seven Sent to Hospital After Boat is Struck by Lightning

By KBJR News 1

August 18, 2012 Updated Aug 19, 2012 at 5:26 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- Alec Devaere and his younger brother, Jack, were on their way to Park Point with their family, when in the midst of crossing the Aerial Lift Bridge, the sirens began rushing past.

"We were coming down here to go to the shore, and look for Agates. Three fire trucks came by...[and] and SUV...and it had a boat attached to the back," said Alec, 15 years old, from Woodbury, MN.

"Did somebody get struck by lightning? Was there an airplane crash? Because, it was kind of by the airport," said Jack, 8 years old.

By the time they arrived at Sky Harbor Airport, at the end of Park Point, news had spread among the crowd.

"They told us it was a nine year old boy that got struck by lightning," said Alec.

There was an overwhelming amount of emergency response—from Duluth Fire and Police Departments, Gold Cross, Coast Guard, Air Ambulance, Border Patrol, and the St. Louis County Rescue Squad.
According to officials, seven people were on board when the boat was struck.

By the time they all were brought to shore at the Superior Point entry, it was apparent to crews that all seven sustained injuries of varying degree.

"Four people were critically injured, and we had 3 people that were less severely injured. But, all were transported to local hospitals—one by air ambulance. There were children of various ages, and some adults," said Active Asst. Fire Chief, Jarry Keppers.

Officials say one 9-year-old boy was without a pulse, after a 5-year-old passenger found him face down in the water. Only after repeated CPR attempts were crews able to regain it.

"I know that he regained a pulse, and, I believe breathing, but that's all I know," said Keppers.

And, while it's difficult to beat a fast moving squall in a sailboat—especially in one of the most remote areas for an emergency rescue, according to Keppers—he says it's crucial to keep a weather–eye open: "It was one of those freaks of nature that happened here, I believe. But, we ask people to keep an eye on the weather forecast."

Keppers says having a weather radio onboard any vessel can mean the difference between life and death.


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