Near-tragedy struck Tampa Labor Day as a Florida teen is in the hospital after a freak lightning strike.
The 15-year-old was reportedly operating a personal watercraft at the time of the strike. Lightning hit the boy within Davis Island Yacht Club, authorities report. The afflicted teen, Mason Ryan Salustro, was immediately hospitalized after the Labor Day incident. According to the the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the teen was operating an 11-foot Sea-Doo personal watercraft when the storm overhead produced a powerful lightning strike.
Salustro, a student at Tampa’s Jesuit High School (according to his social media accounts) is reportedly in stable condition. Officials have yet to release any further details on his condition as of Thursday. Tampa Fire Rescue, however, did confirm the incident taking place at 3:40 p.m. on Labor day.
Lightning Strike Felt Across Florida This Labor Day
As a result of the tropical storms, forecasts across much of Florida called for severe storms this Labor Day. Thankfully, Salustro was one of a few isolated incidents and the holiday was a safe endeavor for most. Storms stop for no one, however, and the panhandle felt the impact of widespread severe activity.
As impressive and beautiful as lightning can be – it is also phenomenally dangerous. While it feels like lightning striking individuals is rare, the phenomenon is actually much more common than most of us think. According to National Geographic: “About 240,000 incidents regarding lightning strikes happen each year. Annual fatality tolls vary greatly…. about 2,000 people are killed worldwide by lightning [per year].”
What’s more, meteorologists estimate that Earth is hit by more than a hundred lightning bolts every second. The odds of a person being struck in the U.S. in any given year is 1 in 700,000. When it comes to being struck in your lifetime, the odds increase astronomically. Those numbers? They’re 1 in 3,000.
The easiest way to avoid a lightning strike is to avoid open spaces when storms are active. If you see lightning or signs that it may be headed your way, head indoors immediately. Being on or near water (a massive conductor) is incredibly unsafe. With this in mind, hopefully far fewer incidents like Salustro’s will happen. Our thoughts are with his family during his recovery.
[H/T Tampa Bay Times]