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Lightning strike kills man


© St. Petersburg Times, published July 31, 2000

A 21-year-old boater who was struck by lightning died Sunday, the day after the incident on the Braden River in Bradenton.

Michael Vasque and a friend were boating on the river just south of State Road 64 on Saturday when dark clouds suddenly covered the sky, witnesses said.

After Vasque was struck, his friend Jason Sherrill, who was driving the boat, crashed into a dock, jumped off the boat and frantically tried to get help, said Sandy Litton, 40. Neighbors who heard the commotion helped carry Vasque off the boat, and a crowd gathered. Litton said she and her husband, Kent, performed CPR on Vasque before rescue officials arrived.

"He was cold and he was purple and I opened his eyes and they were . . . unresponsive and he had no pulse," said Litton, a licensed nurse. "It was pretty outside, then all of a sudden it was black and then there was lightning and thunder. It was like a fluke."

Vasque was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital after the accident, reported at 1:50 p.m. Saturday, according to Manatee County emergency officials. Hospital officials said Vasque died Sunday.

Vasque was a familiar face in the Elwood Park neighborhood, where he frequently rode a boat with Sherrill, who lives in the river-side subdivision, Litton said. Although she didn't know him well, Vasque always seemed full of energy, she said.

"He just seemed like he was full of life," Litton said. "You could tell he had his whole life in front of him."

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