Man killed by lightning strike on beach while warning others of incoming storm, police say |

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A man died after being struck by lightning on a New Jersey beach Sunday while trying to warn other beachgoers of an incoming storm, authorities said.

Patrick Dispoto, 59, was at Seaside Park Beach with his girlfriend but returned to his truck when they realized a storm was approaching, Police Sgt. Andrew Casole said Wednesday.

His girlfriend told police she waited in the truck while Dispoto went back to the beach to warn others that a storm was coming.

Ruth Fussell, Dispoto's girlfriend, told CNN affiliate WABC that she wants people to know that he always tried to make other people's lives easier.

“He said, ‘I’ll be right back.’ I said, ‘You have no business going back.’ And he says, ‘I’m just going to warn these kids because the sky is going to open. I’m just going to warn these kids – one minute.’ I said, ‘No,’” Ruth Fussell, who identified herself as Dispoto’s girlfriend, told CNN’s affiliate WABC.

Fussell said she called Dispoto three times but he didn’t respond, and she waited about 15 minutes for his return. She eventually went back to the beach where she found Dispoto unconscious.

Emergency responders performed CPR on Dispoto and he was taken to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead, police said. Dispoto died by an “accidental death caused by lightning strike,” Casole said.

Days after Dispoto’s death, Seaside Park installed a lightning warning system.

In April, Seaside Park officials purchased the Strike Guard Lightning Detection System, an investment of nearly $50,000, Seaside Park Borough Administrator Karen Kroon told CNN Wednesday.

The system provides lightning warnings by monitoring cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning strikes within a radius set by the user of up to 20 miles, according to the company’s website.

Kroon said the installation, which had been in preparation for months, was scheduled to take place Wednesday. Kroon emphasized that the installation was not in response to the tragedy on Sunday.

“The Borough made that investment because public safety is extremely important and we want to do everything we can to alert our residents and visitors to imminent danger,” Kroon said.

According to the National Lightning Safety Council, this is the third lightning death in the United States this year, and the first death in New Jersey since 2021 when a lifeguard was struck and killed on a beach in South Seaside Park. Since 2006, New Jersey has had 16 lightning deaths, five were on beaches.

Fussell told WABC that Dispoto never passed up an opportunity to make someone’s life easier and that’s what she wants people to know.

“So, his last act of heroism was his ultimate, and that’s my Patrick Dispoto,” Fussell said.

CNN’s Nic F. Anderson contributed to this story

Read More: Man killed by lightning strike on beach while warning others of incoming storm, police say |

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