Georgia Teen Dies a Week After Being Hospitalized for Lightning Strike in Florida While on Family Vacation

by Jon D. B.

A rising senior and athlete at Stratford Academy in Macon, Walker Bethune, 17, was set to become student body president before the lightning strike that would claim his life.

Tragic news: Beloved Georgia teen Walker Bethune, 17, is gone one week after being struck by lightning while on vacation with his family. Outsider’s initial coverage of Walker’s horrible freak-accident states the strike took place “just three feet away from his family while vacationing in Florida.”

“In the midst of this unimaginable event, we are overwhelmed with your love and your prayers for our dear Walker,” Bethune’s family writes on their CaringBridge page. “His remarkable life is a direct reflection of all of you who love him!”

Sadly, we must confirm Walker’s death came Wednesday, July 28, 2021. According to his family, the teen was listening to “one of his favorite Allman Brothers Band songs, “Soulshine,” upon his passing.

“Walker has finished his race here on Earth,” the family announces on Walker’s behalf. “The Lord has received our angel… Our hearts feel an unimaginable pain, but through this journey you have taken with us, we hope that you have found inspiration to draw nearer to God,” the Bethunes state.

“We continue to feel your prayers, love, and comfort… And ask that in the coming days, weeks, and months that you will keep our family close in your prayers.”

Freak Lightning Strike Claims Beloved Georgia Teen

Walker’s treatment began in Florida on July 17 after the lightning strike took place on Marco Island. His father administered CPR immediately after until emergency crews were able to arrive. Afterward, the Georgia teen would see hospitalization in Naples, Florida. From there, he would need airlifting to a trauma center in Miami.

Walker would put up a fight for more than a week. Tragically, the resulting swelling of his brain would prove too much.

“His kindness, compassion, and wisdom led many to describe him as an ‘old soul with a youthful spirit.’ He never met an enemy, and if he ever did, he would use his charm and charisma to win over their hearts,” head of school at Stratford Academy, Logan Bowlds, tributes in a statement from Walker’s school.

The 17-year-old was far more involved with his school and community than most. As a rising senior, Walker would have become Stratford Academy’s incoming student body president. In addition to his place as a cross country and track athlete, Bethune was also a member of Stratford’s skeet shooting team. He was also the founder of his academy’s Cornhole Club.

“Walker’s passing leaves an indelible mark on our school community,” Bowlds adds. “While he may have finished his race here on Earth… We know that Walker is no longer in pain and is finally resting in the arms of God.”

Our sincerest condolences from the Outsider team to the Bethune family, friends, and community. Rest in Peace, Walker.