New Jersey man killed by lightning strike trying to warn beachgoing kids of impending storm

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A New Jersey man died in Seaside Park over the weekend when he was struck by lightning while trying to warn a group of kids about a dangerous thunderstorm.

Patrick Dispoto, 59, made sure his girlfriend, Ruth Fussel, was safe in their car before returning to J Street Beach on the evening, the woman told News 12 New Jersey.

He went back up the dune and onto the sand to warn a group of kids about the incoming storm. No lifeguards were on duty, Fussel told the outlet.

Seaside Park Police told the Asbury Park Press that Dispoto was found unconscious on the beach around 7:38 p.m. CPR was performed on the scene, they said, before he was taken to an area hospital and pronounced dead around 9 p.m.

An autopsy confirmed that Dispoto died an accidental death caused by lightning, News 12 reported.

The beach was closed at the time, Seaside Park Police told the Asbury Park Press, and no one witnessed the fatal lightning strike.

Dispoto’s death comes as the New Jersey borough is poised to upgrade its lightning detection system to warn beachgoers of impending storms, a plan that has been in place for about a year, according to the Asbury Park Press.

“We don’t want to tell people when the storm is here, we want to tell people that the storm is coming so that they can stay ahead of it,” Seaside Park lifeguard captain Jim Rankin told News 12.

“In the event of a thunderstorm, the beach is a very dangerous place to be. So if you feel things like a wind shift, if it’s fluttering back and forth between hot and cold, you see the clouds, you hear little rumbles of thunder — those are signs to get off the beach,” Rankin said.

Since 1959, approximately 86 people have died each year in the U.S. due to lightning strikes, according to the National Weather Service.

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