SEBASTIAN, Fla. - Shelly Lamperski pounded on the chest of her husband as their boat circled in the Indian River Lagoon just after a rogue lightning bolt struck him mid-afternoon Sunday.
"Don't leave me. Don't leave," she said, again and again, according to family members.
But Travis Lamperski did, for a while.
The jolt of electricity stopped his breathing and heart. It damaged an ear drum and a kidney.
He turned pale. His eyes were closed.
Within minutes he was put on a dock and a bystander, Barb Milligan, a nurse from Sebastian, performed CPR until his pulse resumed.
Emergency personnel rushed the unconscious man to Sebastian River Medical Center. Then he was flown to the trauma center at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
His father, Richard Lamperski of Micco, and his wife followed in a car. "It was long silent trip," said the father, who was on the boat when the lightning struck.
Travis Lamperski has regained most of his consciousness but he has no memory of what happened, according to his family. All he recalls is being in a boat and then in Orlando.
He remains under medical surveillance, although his father hopes he will be released by Friday. "He jokes about how the lightning bolt gave him super powers," his father said.
The bolt shook Sebastian's waterfront, striking just 100 yards from where Renee Francis worked as a bartender at Suzy's Tiki Bar on Indian River Drive.
She screamed and jumped.
The high voltage electricity hit 30 feet from Travis Lamperski and passed through the water. The boat was fiberglass. But the current passed through the boat's motor, metal steering cables and into the wheel he held, instantly knocking him out.
His wife was in the front of the 17-foot boat at the time the lightning hit. When she turned around, her 34-year-old husband was just sitting motionless with his arms stretched outright, "like Jesus," his father said.
As his father recalled, Shelly Lamperski emotionally pleaded, "Don't leave me. I love you. We have a (18-month-old) daughter."
Then she pounded his chest.
Richard Lamperski stayed level-headed. He voluntarily served in a combat role in the Vietnam War. He took the steering wheel of the outboard boat that was going in circles. He gunned the engine and headed for dock by the dock where he works as a bartender at Suzy's Tiki Bar.
He kept yelling, "Call 911, call 911."
At first Francis didn't hear. She and other people at the bar hadn't seen lightning strike by the boat, she said. So after getting over the loud air-shaking crack, people at the bar went back to what they were doing — until Francis finally heard the yells. She called 911.
Richard Lamperski credits Milligan with saving his son's life by giving CRP on the dock. "She brought my son back to life. He was dead."
Travis Lamperski is a chiropractor from Pittsburg, Penn., and he and his wife came to Florida to vacation and to visit where they had lived. He formerly worked as a beer distributor in Vero Beach and his wife of seven years worked for Bobby's Restaurant, also in Vero Beach.
And on Sunday they were going on a family outing in Richard Lamperski's new boat. They went to the Sebastian Inlet and ate a lunch. Then they noticed storm clouds in the distance and decided to play it safe and head back to the dock.
"We laughed about how we missed the storm," he said. The dock was in sight.
Then a single lightning bolt struck.
Now the father is thinking about renaming his boat "Lucky Strike." If he had been at the boat's steering wheel, "I wouldn't be alive. I have stents in my heart" and CPR wouldn't have worked, he said.
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