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Father of boy struck by lightning speaks about tragedy

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Father of boy struck by lightning speaks about tragedy

By Mike Mason. CREATED Oct 4, 2012 - UPDATED: Oct 4, 2012

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Tonight, an interview with the father of the boy struck by lightning during football practice in Fort Myers. 11 year old Jesse Watlington is fighting for his life at a Tampa hospital. Meanwhile, hundreds of people are gathering at the church that runs Jesse's school, holding a prayer vigil for Jesse. 

Four in your Corner's Mike Mason has the emotional interview with Jesse's father in a story you will only see on Fox 4.
 
It's a freak accident that has rocked a community. Tonight, Jesse's father is praying his son will survive this horrible tragedy. Chuck Watlington is still in shock after his 11 year old son, Jesse, was struck by lightning during football practice.
 
Chuck Watlington: "I just want to ask everyone in the country just to please pray for  him he's in a coma, he's in critical condition"
 
Jesse now clinging to life at Tampa General Hospital’s ICU unit. Tragedy struck Wednesday afternoon as Jesse and his teammates took to the field for football practice at Southwest Florida Christian Academy in Fort Myers.
 
Chuck Watlington:: "It entered here and exited out of his heel of his foot. And he stopped breathing on the football field."
 
Pastor Richard Powell says at the time, the weather seemed fine. 
 
Pastor Richard Powell: "There was no visual expectation, no sound expectation of having lightning or thunder but just very surprisingly there was a big clap, a big bolt of lightning."
 
But Watlington says he was working just four miles away and did notice a storm moving in. 
 
Chuck Watlington: "It was like a really bad storm, little did I know at that exact moment my 11 year old son was struck dead in the chest with a lightning bolt.”
 
The pastor says coaches always use a lightning detection device before practice just to be safe. At the time it wasn't registering any electrical activity but he says Jesse was the first one to take the field and when the first bolt of lightning struck it was too late.
 
Pastor Richard Powell: "A lightning measuring device measures lightning that has happened and this lightning had not happened it was one of those first strikes and it unfortunately got one of our guys."
 
After being struck, witnesses say Jesse had no pulse and had stopped breathing. They performed CPR and paramedics rushed him to the hospital. Tonight, hundreds packed the pews at McGregor Baptist Church for an emotional prayer vigil, hoping a higher power will help Jesse make a full recovery.
 
Chuck Watlington: "I'd like to encourage everybody because I believe in miracles and please pray for our son Jesse."
 
The pastor says the school is calling off all athletic activities this weekend in honor of Jesse. Meanwhile his family remains by his side in Tampa.