August 06, 2012
The Bay County Sheriff’s Office responded to Shell Island today shortly before noon in reference to a medical distress call.
Deputies arrived by boat to find a man and his stepson unresponsive. They appeared to have been struck by lightning. Subsequent investigation revealed the family, from Chelsea, Alabama, had been staying on their boat anchored off the Bay side of Shell Island for several days. Earlier today, they decided to walk along the beach on the Gulf side of the Island. When the weather turned bad, they headed back to the boat.
James Keith Brown, 42 years of age, carried his stepson on his back because the 14 year old had recently broken his ankle. Brown’s wife stated she heard a loud noise and turned around to see both her husband and son face down in the sand.
James Brown was pronounced dead at the scene. Tristan Berger, 14 years of age, was taken to a local hospital, evaluated, and sent to Sacred Heart in Pensacola. Because the weather was still bad, Berger was not sent by helicopter but was taken by emergency ambulance to Pensacola. His mother and sister are being taken to Pensacola by a Bay County Sheriff’s Office deputy.