Couple donates lightning detectors to honor son's legacy

- Jesse Watlington was killed in 2012 by a lightning strike in Fort Myers.  Now his parents are traveling across the Tampa Bay area, donating equipment to schools that could save others from the same fate.

"We don't know God's will," said Chuck Watlington. "He has a purpose for everything."

Watlington lived in Fort Myers, was a lover of martial arts, of his friends, and of the Bible.  But in October of 2012, a storm rolled in and he was hit by lightning as he walked with classmates.

After a few days, he died at Tampa General Hospital.

"I have lost my mother, my father, I have lost every aunt and uncle I have ever had, add them all together, it's not one percent of losing a child," said Chuck Watlington.

Chuck and Alda Watlington's pain has become action.

"Jesse is here, he is impacting people," said Alda Watlington.

The Watlington's have started a foundation.  Monday, they gave out three more lightning detectors.

"There are times storms roll in a little quicker than you expect," Steven Clagg, the head of school at Skycrest Christian. "We are all out here trying to get them into the gym."

Bradenton Christian, Northside Christian and Skycrest Christian Schools are now proud owners of Weather Bug lightning detectors.  Anytime there's a strike within seven miles, horns will go off and emails will go out to every staff member alerting them: Get your kids inside.

"I think it is peace of mind, which is what everybody wants at a school," said Clagg.

The detectors cost about $10,000 each, but are paid for with money the Watlingtons won in a lawsuit over their son's death.

They focus on religious, private schools to honor their son’s memory.

"Every time that siren goes off, Jesse is there, protecting kids, calling them to safety," said Alda Watlington.

"I want to make this my life's work," said Chuck Watlington. "This is what my son would want us to do."

The Watlingtons have given out 35 lightning detectors, and have another 15 planned.

They plan to give them to every small private religious school in the state, and then want to focus on all areas where kids play in hopes this never happens again.

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