Lifestyle & Human Interest

USCG Rescues Fishing Group Stranded 100 Miles off Coast After Lightning Strikes Boat, Starts Fire


A boat carrying seven people on Saturday headed about 100 miles off the coast of Clearwater, Florida, as the crew prepared for a day of fishing.

Group members were competing in a tournament, but they were the ones who needed to be thrown a line.

As they started bringing fish aboard, the weather changed for the worse.

It isn’t unusual to encounter storms at this time of year, but it is somewhat unusual to capture the ensuing natural disaster on film.

As one of the passengers recorded the journey, lightning struck the 39-foot boat.

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“There was just the biggest flash, like light bulbs, right in your face,” Sherrie Kelley, one of the passengers, told WTVT-TV.

The passenger who was filming, Joshua Lee Guy — lost consciousness and hit the deck, boat captain Glenn Rumer told the outlet.

Thankfully, Guy got up quickly, but as the group assessed the boat, they realized they were in trouble.

“The electricity from the lightning actually went through him and caused him to black out and go to the floor,” Rumer, Kelley’s brother, added.

The engine had been fried. The lightning had split the outrigger in half, and it was on fire.

Rumer was well-prepared with an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) that had not been damaged in the lightning strike. They were stranded until someone heard their call for help.


“Fortunately, the boaters, in this case were well prepared with all necessary safety equipment including an EPIRB, flares, and a marine VHF radio to ensure a quick and efficient rescue,” Coast Guard pilot Lt. David McKinley said in a release from the United States Coast Guard.

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The Coast Guard said it sent an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to the crew’s location and picked up all seven anglers, who had no “medical concerns.”

Grateful was the sentiment of the day.

“Thank you again,” passenger Tonya Albritton commented on the Coast Guard Southeast’s Facebook post. “Most terrifying thing to go thru. Thank God n the coast guard I’m alive today.”

One of the women on board, Meghan Chaple, was 25 weeks’ pregnant, but neither she nor her baby suffered any injuries, according to a Facebook post from passenger Hannah Frank.

“Joshua is the one making the video and was struck by the lightning at the same time as the boat, he is perfectly okay and was able to step up with our boat captain and help keep everyone safe and calm,” Chaple posted on Facebook. “He was born for this stuff.

“Baby and I were a huge concern for the entire boat but I was super calm and collected the whole time because of Josh and his demeanor. The boat captain Glenn Rumer was so prepared and saved our lives! Love these guys so much!

“The emotions and thought processes were just everywhere and still are. So thankful everyone is okay and watching the US Coast Guard do their thing was absolutely amazing! So grateful we have resources like that and heros like them to save us.”

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