SIESTA KEY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Texas family’s Florida vacation came to an abrupt, terrifying end when lightning struck 14-year-old Jacob Brewer last Thursday, two days after they arrived from Fort Worth, Texas.
Barbara Brewer, her husband Jeremiah and children Ashley and Jacob were enjoying a wonderful day in Siesta Key, south of Tampa, when clouds started to form.
They saw the storm rolling in and gathered their belongings, then started walking back to the parking area. Barbara said they were all walking in close proximity to one another.
“As we started walking across the beach, there were several people still on the beach, everybody was trying to pack up,” said Barbara Brewer. “The next thing you know we were all on the ground and I had ringing in my ear. And I looked over and my son Jacob … I saw a hole in his shirt where he was hit by lightning. He was down on the ground and foaming at the mouth.”
Jeremiah Brewer recalled the moment it happened.
“I was walking ahead of them and I saw the flash of light,” Brewer said. “And I could smell the singed air around me and then this instant, incredible crack.”
A good Samaritan ran to help and began CPR. Jeremiah then picked up his son and attempted to get him to safety or to a shelter – he knew he needed to get Jacob help fast.
A Sarasota deputy stopped the group and told them to put Jacob on the ground. He resumed CPR until paramedics arrived.
They first rushed 14-year old Jacob to a hospital in Sarasota and then he was transferred to Tampa General hospital where he is still recovering, listed in serious condition.
Doctors told the Brewers, the lightning traveled through the teen’s chest and exited through his foot.
Jacob’s parents are amazed he survived such an ordeal. Jeremiah calls it a miracle.
“To me, there’s no doubt in my mind it’s a miracle that he’s alive,” said Jeremiah Brewer. “That he’s been alive every morning now since and he’s breathing and he’s trying to communicate with us through hand gestures.”
Friends of the family have set up a GoFundMe page for the Brewers as medical bills and other unanticipated expenses are adding up fast.
Barbara Brewer says she is just thankful for all of the people who pitched in to save her son. She also has a warning for tourists who aren’t familiar with how quickly Florida storms can roll in.
“If you decide to make a trip to Florida and if you start to see some clouds in the distance it is a good idea to pack up,” said Barbara, her husband also chiming in with his own advice. “Even if it does seem far off,” said Jeremiah. “Because we could see the storm and it seemed far away and there were still hundreds of people on the public beach.”