Lightning strike kills Florida mother as she waits for child to get out of school

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A Florida woman was killed by lightning Thursday as she was in a park waiting for her child to be released from a nearby school, officials said.

Lightning hit a tree near Trotwood Park in Winter Springs around 2:20 p.m., police said in a statement.

Another child who was with the woman and a dog were seen by medical professionals and are OK, police said.

The group was waiting for a child to be released from a nearby school, Police Capt. Doug Seely said.

“While they were waiting, a lightning strike came down and energized the area,” he told reporters at the scene, according to video from NBC affiliate WESH of Orlando.

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The name of the victim or her family was not released.

Parents frequently gather at the park to meet their children from elementary and middle school after classes are done for the day, WESH reported.

There were multiple lighting strikes in Winter Springs, a city of around 38,000 northeast of Orlando, at the time but there were no other injuries, Seminole County fire spokesperson Doreen Overstreet said.

The National Weather Service had warned of thunderstorms and lightning in the area Thursday. In some areas, like around the community of Christmas east of Orlando, the weather service issued warnings about excessive lightning.

There were about 60 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in the area of Winter Springs from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., which is not considered excessive, said Tony Cristaldi, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Melbourne.

That is around one flash per minute; what is termed excessive lightning is about 12 per minute, he said.

“It’s those storms near the beginning of the storm and those that don’t produce a lot of lightning that can be more dangerous,” he said, because when there is more lightning, people are more likely to be sheltering.

But any thunderstorm can produce lighting, and any lightning strike can cause injures, he said.

The deadly lightning strike in Florida occurred two weeks after three people were killed when lightning struck a tree in Washington, D.C., at Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House.

People should not take shelter under trees when lightning is in the area, officials say. They should take shelter in a closed building or a hard-topped all-metal vehicle if a building is not available, according to the weather service.