Chamber of commerce apologizes after Pennsylvania boy denied shelter during storms

FAIRLESS HILLS, Pennsylvania -- The Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce in Pennsylvania has issued an apology after denying a teenager shelter during Wednesday's thunderstorm.

Collin Giambrone, 13, of Levittown, Pennsylvania was fishing at Caroline Lake in Fairless Hills, just behind the chamber of commerce.

"I was just casting out one rod and then just fast fishing with my bait caster," said Collin, who goes fishing there three or four times a week.

When storms rolled in earlier than he expected, he ran to the closest building: the chamber of commerce. He was met at the door by the executive director.

"He came up, I said, 'Hey, is it OK if I stay inside?' And he just said, 'No you're not allowed to. Sorry.' And then he just shut the door," said Collin.

Collin was recording using his phone when a large lightning bolt struck nearby.

EMBED More News Videos

A Bucks County family is seeking answers after they say their 13-year-old was denied entry into the Chamber of Commerce offices during lightning storms in the area.

He knocked again, but he said there was no answer.
Collin had spoken to his mom several times on the phone. She had been out to lunch and was frantically trying to get home.

"There was lightning. We couldn't see. I couldn't see," said Collin's mother, Tracy Giambrone.

In the end, Collin was fine, but his parents were angry, after a phone call with the executive director.

"He basically told my husband that Collin could've had a gun and that's why he didn't let him in," said Tracy.

The chamber released this statement Thursday morning:
"Yesterday we made a mistake when a young teen was seeking shelter from the storm inside the LBCCC building. We have recently had several security issues and we allowed those experiences to cloud our judgment. We very much regret what happened yesterday and will be reaching out to the young man and his family to try to set things right."

Tracy said she hopes folks at the chamber have more compassion in the future.

"We're not looking for anything. I just want him to understand that it's OK to be kind. It's OK to be kind," she said.

Thursday afternoon, the Giambrones told WPVI they received a phone call from a chamber board member, telling them they will use this scenario to reevaluate their position in the community and to improve their policies.

Collin's mom says while he'll still be allowed to go fishing, they'll pay more attention to the forecast in the future.

A Bucks County, Pennsylvania family is seeking answers after they say their 13-year-old son was denied entry into the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce offices during Wednesday's lightning storms in the area.

The Giambrone family WPVI their son Colin was fishing in a nearby lake when the storms rolled in. The Giambrones said while Colin waited to be picked up, he ran to the nearest building--the chamber of commerce.

After knocking, the family says a man at the door told Colin he could not enter and was left to wait outside.

In videos recorded by Colin, also obtained by WPVI, you can see the teen standing outside with a fishing rod in hand as he then pans to the closed door. In a second video, the teen is heard shouting as a lightning bolt comes down in what appears to be close proximity.

The chamber received some backlash Wednesday evening after the story was shared online.

The Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce initially posted a letter on their Facebook about the incident which said in part, "Our facility is a secured location and a result we follow a security protocol. We understand that the individual needed shelter from the rain which we provided. We will continue to do our best to provide everyone with a safe environment."

That message was followed up with one from the Chamber's Executive Director, Minesh Pathnak, that said, "I personally would like to apologize for the events that occurred this afternoon. The current policy & procedures will be reviewed with the Executive Board at the next meeting."

EMBED More News Videos

A Bucks County family is seeking answers after they say their 13-year-old was denied entry into the Chamber of Commerce offices during lightning storms in the area.

Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.