Family of boy killed in lightning strike while rowing on Orlando’s Lake Fairview files lawsuit

Lawsuit alleges lack of training, supervision during practice

ORLANDO, Fla. – The family of a boy who died during a rowing practice on Lake Fairview in Orlando when a lightning strike overturned the boat has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

The boy was one of two students who died in September while practicing with the North Orlando Rowing Club near North Orange Blossom Trail and Lee Road. He was taken to the hospital and died on his 12th birthday, several days after the incident, according to the lawsuit.

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Officials said five children were on the boat when it overturned due to a lightning strike, which killed another boy, whose body was found after a 24-hour search of the lake.

One child was injured and another went missing after a lightning strike Thursday afternoon at Lake Fairview in Orlando, officials said.

The lawsuit — which is suing North Orlando Rowing Club, College Park Lions Club and USRowing — alleges the coaches and staff of North Orlando Rowing Club failed to warn rowers or make sure they returned safely to a boat house, while a storm was approaching.

The boy signed up with North Orlando Rowing Club just one week before his death, the lawsuit said. It was also the first time the boy was on the water. The lawsuit claims the boy did not receive training and “he was not given a swim proficiency test by the North Orlando coaches or staff.”

Fire officials said initially it was unclear whether the boat capsized due to a direct strike or if lightning hit nearby.

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.

According to the lawsuit, the boy taken to the hospital died three days after the incident, and his cause of death was determined to be drowning. The lawsuit claims there was no coach on a boat nearby “to provide proper supervision, instruction and guidance.”

Out of the wishes of the family, News 6 is not naming the boy at this time.

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About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.