ETOWAH, Ark. — Sixteen-year-old Steven Sheppard was hit by lightning while trying to make it home after volunteering at a church during Tuesday night’s storm, according to police.
It happened behind Carroll Corner’s Church of the Lord Jesus Christ just off Highway 136 on Tuesday around 8 p.m.
Steven’s father, Nute Sheppard, said he found his son lying under a tree in the pouring rain. He said he grabbed him and held him tight.
“I tried to wake him up, and I couldn’t. I was screaming,” said Nute, but his screams went unanswered.
“Thinking maybe he would come back to life, but I noticed his lips, and they were blue,” he said. “[The lightning] hit a tree and bounced off on him.”
The lightning branded the tree Steven was under. He was rushed to the hospital, but died an hour later.
“We spent a lot of quality time together, and now he’s gone,” said Nute.
Loved ones said Steven was full of life. He loved sports, the outdoors and his girlfriend. He helped out at his church when he could. He wanted to make a difference.
“He came just about every day when school was out and asked me if I had anything for him to do,” said Steven’s Pastor Alvin Wilbanks. “He would always carry my Bible inside for me and get me water.”
With so much life ahead of him, Steven was getting ready to apply to college, and his dad was going to help with his dreams.
“I was going to let him have my car, so he would have a way to get around. I was going to be carless. It didn’t work out like that,” said Nute. “Cherish your children while you got them. You have no promise of tomorrow. You never know when you’re going to go. I didn’t know he was going.”
Wednesday night, dozens came out to say goodbye to Steven at his visitation and to honor a life that ended too soon. The funeral is set for Thursday.
Etowah is located in Mississippi County, west of Osceola.