ORLANDO, Fla. – A memorial has grown in the days after a child’s body was found when a boat carrying five rowers overturned after a lightning strike on Thursday.
The child’s body was found during a search lasting more than 24 hours on Friday. The memorial was set up outside of North Orlando Rowing Club, which is the group the five children were practicing with.
According to Orlando fire officials, the lightning strike happened around 5:50 p.m. on Thursday as the five students from different area schools were practicing.
“There was a lightning strike in the area. We are unsure whether it actually hit the vessel or actually was just in the area,” Orlando Fire Department Executive Deputy Chief Ian Davis said. “The boat was capsized. (There were) five students on the vessel.”
One child was injured and another went missing, officials said. Three other children were safely returned to their parents after being evaluated by firefighters, Davis said. Law enforcement then searched for the missing child through the next 24 hours before finding the body.
News 6 obtained a CAD report from Orlando police that details the emergency response Thursday.
According to the report, the boat was struck by lightning 150 yards out from shore. It also says Orlando fire crews responded to a child struck by lightning at about 5:58 p.m., and within seven minutes, at least two of the children were rescued from the water.
The missing student attended Annunciation Catholic Academy in Altamonte Springs, according to a Facebook post from the school.
A vigil was held on Saturday to mourn and pray for the child’s family.
“We want to share our love and support and we don’t know of any other way to do it right now,” said Kim Watson, one of the dozens who attended the vigil.
USRowing, a nonprofit focused on rowing as a sport, has a safety expectations policy that states to “be aware of weather conditions and how your venue is impacted by those conditions.”
The policy also says to use extreme caution when rowing in high winds and not row in fog or an electrical storm. However, it remains unclear whether the rowers at Lake Fairview were trying to make it back to shore when the tragedy occurred.
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