Clearwater woman killed by lightning identified by authorities

Police say they now know the identity of a woman who was killed Wednesday evening after she was struck by lightning in Clearwater

According to authorities, 73-year-old Kathleen M. Carrick died in the Bayside Gardens IV complex, located on the 1300 block of Gulf Boulevard in Sand Key. Clearwater Police and Fire Rescue spokesperson, Rob Shaw, said the 911 call came in at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday after storms rolled through the area. 

The person who found Carrick said it appeared that she was leaving her condo and possibly walking to her car. Shaw said when fire medics arrived, they found Carrick on the sidewalk and pronounced her dead at the scene.

In a statement send to FOX, Carrick's family said, "We are shocked and devastated by the loss of our beloved sister, sister-in-law, aunt, great aunt, cousin, and friend. Kathy was a trailblazer and a kind, caring, independent woman of faith whose strength and perseverance was an example to all who knew her. While we appreciate the outpouring of condolences, we ask for privacy at this time as we deal with our heavy loss.  

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"We know that none of us are immortal, but I think there are a lot of folks who are just completely stunned by this news," Jonathan Entin, Carrick’s friend and former colleague, said.

Entin worked with Carrick at Case Reserve University in Cleveland where she was the law library director for 25 years. 

"Kathy was somebody who was pretty down to earth, but she took her job very seriously. She was very good at what she did. She had a very high profile in the law library community. She was known all over the country. She was prominent in the Association of Law Library. She was involved in activities with the American Bar Association," Entin said. 

Pictured: Kathleen M. Carrick.

He said Carrick loved baseball and her cats and was shocked to hear the news.

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"Lots of folks are going to be missing her a lot," Entin said.

Neighbors said Carrick lived at Bayside Gardens for about a decade.

"I just saw her around the complex," neighbor Allison Conti said. "She would go to the pool sometimes. Very nice. All the interactions I've had with her, very few, but nothing but good things to say about her."

"It’s definitely scary, and it makes you think like, what is there really that we could do to prevent that from happening to someone else, and what are the odds of actually being struck by lightning," Conti said. 

The odds of getting struck by lightning are about one in 15,300 over the course of a lifetime, according to the National Weather Service. According to data from NWS, Carrick was the tenth person in the United States to die from a lightning strike this year, and Florida is at the top of that list with three fatalities. 

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"We have had house fires as well. We've had trees, poles. We have transformers, lots of items and objects get struck. It's very rare that people get struck," Shaw said.

FOX 13 Meteorologist Paul Dellegatto says anytime you hear thunder, lightning is nearby and you should head indoors.

"I feel like thunderstorms in Florida are very common during this time. So, you don't really think twice about it, but now I'm definitely going to think twice about staying outside during a thunderstorm," Conti said.

Shaw echoed Dellegatto’s point.

"This woman, we believe, was simply walking from her condo to the car, you know, a very short distance. But all it takes is a split second to have something like this happen, unfortunately," Shaw said.

Shaw said no one witnessed the fatal lightning strike. The incident is still under investigation.