I finally was able to get the archive radar site to work. Here is a copy of the radar image around the time of the accident, see below. The kiter was struck about 5 miles south southeast of the airport labeled "SGJ." You can see the two cells Eddie Toy was describing with the more serious of the two to the north and west of Vilano Beach. His description of the layout of the clouds looks pretty accurate.
So, the lightning bolt traveled several miles to strike the father and largely miss the son standing beside him. Considering the 30-30 Rule**, the distance wasn't that great.
They say the odds of being struck by lightning in Florida in a "normal" person's life are 3000 to 1. Now take that person, put them on flat beach or water surfaces, in proximity to squalls with some frequency, what are the odds now? For an even smaller, special group, have them kiting when their hair stands on end (a sign of an imminent lightning strike) , the control bar issues painful shocks and they can see static electricity arcs from the water when they jump. What do you think the odds might be for this last, special group? Think it over and about the weather conditions you will ride in, rider's choice.
More about lightning and precautions at:
http://www.preparemetrokc.org/know_the_ ... storms.asp
Again, we are far more at risk of being hurt or killed by excessive winds related to a squall than by lightning. That has been our experience since the sport started. Despite that, why risk getting struck and dealing with the aftermath, assuming there is one.
** Lightning 30/30 rule: If it takes less than 30 seconds to hear thunder after seeing the flash, lightning is near enough to pose a threat (about 6 miles away); after the storm ends, wait 30 minutes before resuming outdoor activities.
My friend Karen reminded me just how important knowing CPR can be in preserving life and health when things go badly. She has made sure that both she and her children know these simple critical procedures. We should copy her good example and should take training ourselves. CPR saved Falk's life and many others including some kiters over the years.
Strike Victim First Aid
1. Call 911 for medical help or send for help immediately
2. Assess the situation
3. Check for breathing and heartbeat
4. Administer CPR
5. Address other Lightning Injuries
More at: http://climbing.about.com/od/climberlig