Lightning strike kills boater, injures another

June 25, 2010 8:01:02 AM PDT
On Thursday morning, lightning hit two men who were working on a boat in the Intracoastal Canal in Chambers County near Highway 124 bridge. One of them died, and the man who survived says there wasn't a cloud in the sky for miles around. Lightning can hit from up to 25 miles away, and on Thursday, it hit a boat out on a commercial fishing job with two fishermen aboard. One of them was killed.

"When you look at the boat, you'd never know anything happened in it," said Terri Mullenax, whose brother survived the lightning strike.

As lightning filled the Thursday night sky over the boat, earlier that morning, it was much closer.

Owner Jerry Duff, 47, and his co-worker Charles Franklin Weaver, Jr., 30, were checking the crab traps in the bay near Anahuac, Texas when Mother Nature caught them off guard.

"You can see where they pulled the crab trap over ... and they were within arms' length from each other," Mullenax said.

Just after 9am Thursday, with no rain falling and no overhead clouds, lightning hit Weaver, moving through him and then onto Duff.

"They were knocked unconscious, you know, right directly then," Mullenax said. "When he comes to, all he can tell you is he was trying to revive Charles ... and he couldn't revive him."

When the electrical system burned out, Duff, who was injured, was able to flag down another boat, which called for help. When emergency crews arrived, Weaver was already dead at the scene. Duff was flown to UTMB to be treated for non-life-threatning injuries.

The boat that's only a few months old is now parked in its usual spot near Duff's seafood company, but it's a sight that may always bring the commercial fisherman to tears.

"He'll never be able to look at that boat again and not think about it," Mullenax said. "He's devastated."

Duff was released from the hospital and was at home resting Thursday night.

Weaver leaves behind a baby and a pregnant wife.


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