ORLANDO, Fla. — The search for a middle school student who disappeared after lightning struck during rowing practice on a local lake Thursday has ended with the recovery of his body.
According to the Orlando Fire Department, a Marine Unit from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office found the missing student on Lake Fairview around 5:15 pm. Friday, nearly 24 hours after rescue crews first responded to the Lake.
“We are incredibly saddened by this incident and appreciate the efforts of the multiple agencies who worked together over the past 24 hours to assist in the rescue, including Orlando Police Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Fire Rescue and Seminole County Sheriff’s Office,” the Fire Department said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to he families and friends impacted by this tragedy.”
The rowers entered the lake on the side close to Lee Road and Edgewater Drive.
Fire Rescue crews said just before 6 p.m. Thursday, a lightning strike on or near a rowboat caused it to capsize with five boys from the North Orlando Rowing Club on board.
Four boys made it to shore, one of whom was sent to the hospital. The fifth boy, a student from Annunciation Catholic Academy, never turned up.
Search operations were temporarily suspended around 3:05 p.m. Friday due to inclement. weather but were eventually able to resume.
Three boats arrived on the water to help with the search, one of which was a pontoon boat equipped with sonar.
People in the area are devastated by the news in a close-knit boating community where they’re used to seeing rowers on the water all the time.
“I’m devastated that this happened here,” neighbor Patrick Poulin said. “I’m really sad for the family, I’m really sad for the community. I think we’re all feeling this one. I know I am.”
North Orlando Rowing posted a statement on Facebook confirming the loss of one of their rowers. It read, in part, “The NOR family is devastated and heartbroken. We are working together to support the family and our rowing family. We will not have any other comments at this time and ask that the media and community allow us time to process”
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