CREATED Jul. 30, 2013
CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Sergeant Matt Nyce with Lee County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit knows firsthand how dangerous it can be to be on the water during a storm. Between his experience with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Sheriff's Office Marine Unit, and his passion for the water, he's been on three boats that have been struck by lightning.
"Each one is just as scary as the last one," Nyce said.
Lightning nearly struck a woman on a boat in the Caloosahatchee River yesterday. According to the incident report, EMS crews provided advanced life support to her on scene. Now, marine officials are reminding boaters about safety during storms. Nyce said even though water isn't typically a good conductor or electricity, salt water is and poses greater risk for those out on the water during a storm.
"If you get a nearby strike in the civinity of your boat, you could very well get some residual effects from that bolt of lightning," Nyce said.
Patrick O'Brien, president of Sea Tow, said he's been busier this summer rescuing distraught boats because of all the recent storms.
If you get caught on the water during a storm, find a dock or marina as quickly as possible. Boaters can legally go through idle zones at non-idle speeds only when a storm is present.
Nyce said the best way to aviod getting caught in a stormy situation entirely is to plan ahead and know what the weather forecast is before you head out.
"If you see these things start to build up, it's time to go home... don't wait until they get up on you because it's too late at that point," he said.
Here's a link to the Lee County Waterways app, which tracks radar and weather conditions for area waters: