Georgia Teen Dies a Week After He Was Struck by Lightning While on Family Vacation in Florida

·2 min read
Walker Bethune/
Walker Bethune/

gofundme Walker Bethune

A Georgia teenager who was struck by lightning while on a family vacation in Florida has died a week after the incident.

Walker Bethune, 17, died on Wednesday while listening to one of his favorite Allman Brothers Band songs, "Soulshine," his family announced on his CaringBridge page.

"Walker has finished his race here on Earth," the family said in a statement. "The Lord has received our angel."

"Our hearts feel an unimaginable pain, but through this journey you have taken with us, we hope that you have found inspiration to draw nearer to God," they added. "We continue to feel your prayers, love, and comfort, and ask that in the coming days, weeks, and months that you will keep our family close in your prayers."

The high school student had been seeking treatment in Florida since July 17, when he was struck by lightning just three feet away from the rest of his family during a beach day on Marco Island.

Walker Bethune
Walker Bethune

gofundme Walker Bethune

RELATED: 15-Year-Old Girl Killed by Lightning Strike at Georgia Beach: 'There Was Absolutely No Warning'

Walker was transported to a hospital in Naples following the incident and was later airlifted to a trauma center in Miami, according to his family. At the time, he was in stable but critical condition.

Though Walker showed some signs of improvement after his transfer, the family said over the weekend that the teen had been dealing with brain swelling, calling it a "set back."

"The goal is to have him stable enough in the morning to endure another MRI to better check on the swelling…Pray BIG AND BOLD the swelling relieves overnight and his brain shows improved healing," a July 26 update read.

In the wake of the tragic incident, Walker's family set up a GoFundMe to raise funds during "this time of need." As of Thursday, the campaign has raised more than $22,300.

RELATED VIDEO: Family Grieves Death of 7-Year-Old Boy Who Was Struck by Lightning While Playing Under Tree

Walker was a rising senior at the Stratford Academy in Macon who had been elected as the incoming student body president, according to the school. His was also a track and cross country athlete, as well as a member of the school's clay target shooting team and the founder of its Cornhole Club.

"His kindness, compassion, and wisdom led many to describe him as an 'old soul with a youthful spirit.' He never met an enemy, and if he ever did, he would use his charm and charisma to win over their hearts," Logan Bowlds, the head of school at Stratford Academy, said in a statement on Thursday.

"Walker's passing leaves an indelible mark on our school community," Bowlds said. "While he may have finished his race here on Earth, we know that Walker is no longer in pain and is finally resting in the arms of God."

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