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Lightning strike on Sanibel beach results in one death

By TIFFANY REPECKI / trepecki@breezenewspapers.com - | Jul 30, 2021

A man recently hospitalized after he was struck by lightning on a beach on Sanibel has died.

Brent Jerome and his wife, Kristen, were both hit by lightning on July 24 at about 4:52 p.m. on the beach behind the Sanibel Beach Club, at 626 Nerita St. The Downtown Church located in Columbia, South Carolina, reported that the couple — members and home group leaders — were on vacation.

On July 29, the church shared via its website “with heavy and broken hearts” that Brent Jerome was declared brain dead the day before. It reported that the evening of July 29, his body was taken from the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital to the Operating Room for a surgery to remove five of his organs.

“Words fail to capture the grief, sadness, anger, and shock that his family, his friends, and this church are feeling after such a freak accident,” the church wrote.

“In light of the deep sadness we feel, it brings this community some hope knowing that five different people who have been waiting for a miracle might receive that from our friend, husband, and father. As he was moved in the hospital, friends, family, and hospital employees lined the hall to honor Brent for the ways he continues to radiate life even while his soul is already in God’s eternal Kingdom,” it noted.

The church added that Kristen Jerome, who was also transported to Lee Memorial, is “continuing to recover and is incredibly grateful for the warmth and care she has received from friends and strangers.”

According to a Sanibel police report, when officers responded to the incident they observed Kristen Jerome conscious and breathing, but her husband was unresponsive. A bystander was performing CPR on him. The officers took over performing the CPR and applied an AED until fire and EMS arrived.

Once the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District and Lee County EMS were on scene, the responders carried the couple — with the help of police — off the beach and into the back of two separate ambulances.

The report states that one officer was approached by a man and woman carrying two small children, approximately 2 and 5 years old, who said the children belonged to the couple struck by lightning. Due to heavy lightning still in the area, both children were provided shelter in the officer’s patrol vehicle.

They were later reunited with their mother and grandparents, according to the report.

On July 26, the church shared on its website that the children were not injured.

The church has set up a fund for those interested in supporting the family financially. To donate, visit https://downtownchurch.kindful.com and select the “Jerome Care Fund” in the drop down menu.