GULF SHORES, Ala. (WALA) – A somber anniversary in Gulf Shores Wednesday afternoon as a family remembered two lives cut short by a bolt of lightning. 38 year-old Tommy Summerlin and his 7 year old stepson Noah Butler were struck and killed nine years ago.
Balloons Released in Memory
With a prayer and the releasing of balloons an awful day was re-lived by Sharon Summerlin and her family.
“It’s been nine years and it’s still a struggle and we love them and we miss them and we think of them daily. God you snatched them up and took them from this very spot and from here we release their balloons in honor of their lives. We love you Tommy and we love you Noah amen…”
It was July 23rd 2005 when a day at the beach turned into a day of tragedy.
“It was one single strike,” Summerlin said. “It was one boom and then you saw them fall.”
Sharon Summerlin and her other three kids were on the beach and saw what happened as her husband Tommy and son Noah were struck.
“They were running down the beach and my husband went to grab my little boys hand and lightning struck him and it went through him to my little boy and it killed both of them instantly,” Summerlin said.
Pain Never Fades
Summerlin told us the loss is felt even worse as the years pass.
“Every year I go back to reliving it,” Summerlin said. “Everyday, where we were at what we were doing and come 12 o’clock noon on the 23rd my heart explodes.”
And on this July 23rd, like that day nine years ago, scores of people were on the beach with their tents and lawn chairs while there were grey, threatening skies overhead.
Summerlin said that’s a big reason why she’s reliving the tragedy. She hopes people see her pain and pay attention to stormy skies at the beach.
“We don’t want what killed them forgotten because if you hear the thunder it’s too late. The lightning comes before the thunder,” Summerlin said.