19-Year-Old Rowing Instructor Killed By Lightning At Germiston Lake

19-Year-Old Rowing Instructor Killed By Lightning At Germiston Lake

A 19-year-old rowing instructor was killed when he was struck by lightning on Saturday. Nicholas Whaites was on the water at Germiston Lake with William MacDonald, aged 14, at the National Sprints Regatta in Gauteng, with the latter surviving his injuries.

The two were participating in the competition before adverse weather conditions lead to a tragic outcome. The regatta was immediately suspended, as Rowing SA shared their heartfelt condolences with the Whaites family:

“We are deeply shocked and saddened to hear of a lightning strike incident that occurred today at one of our regattas that resulted in a death of a coach and injury of an athlete. We wish our rower a speedy recovery and we would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family and club of this special coach, our hearts are with you during this immensely difficult time.”

- Rowing SA

Germiston Lake hit by freak lightning tragedy

MacDonald is still receiving treatment at the Sunward Park Netcare hospital in Boksburg, Johannesburg. He is an attendee of Somerset College in the Western Cape and went to the same institution as the deceased.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa has expressed her deepest sympathies and offered her support to those who knew Nicholas on a personal level:

“We are saddened by the passing away of Mr Whaits who was a coach to Mr William. I would like to pass my condolences to the family and friends of Mr Whaits as well as the Rowing community and the entire sporting family and wish William a speedy recovery.”

- Tokozile Xasa

How many people are killed by lightning each year?

It’s estimated the 24 000 people succumb to their deaths this way every year. That’s pretty scary, hey? What is more, the mortality rate works out to be 66 people a day. Of course, some people are more exposed to this threat than others – rural areas are the most dangerous locations.

Lightning strikes can cause cardiac and pulmonary arrest (no pulse and no breathing), temporary paralysis, temporary deafness, or minor to severe burns in other cases. During a storm, you need to stay indoors until it’s all over. If you can’t get to shelter, make sure you are lying or crouching on the ground.

By Tom Head, THE SOUTH AFRICAN

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