Man dies after being struck by lightning while carrying weed wacker in Margate

First responders forced to take cover amid severe lightning in area

By Terrell Forney - Reporter, Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

MARGATE, Fla. - A 55-year-old man died after he was struck by lightning in Margate, authorities said.

As of Monday, officials said the man was hospitalized.

On Friday, investigators confirmed he had died.

The incident was reported about 11:40 a.m. Monday at the Oriole Gardens Phase One Condominium, located at 7400 NW Fourth Place.

"When I heard the thunder, or whatever it was -- I'm afraid of them," witness Susana Miranda said. "But then I thought about him, and I went to look at him and he was already on the ground."

Margate Fire Rescue officials said the landscaper, identified as Rico Eltine, was carrying a weed wacker when he was struck by lightning.

Miranda, who said Eltine was lying facedown in the grass and was unresponsive, called 911, but first responders were initially forced to take cover amid the severe lightning that appeared to hover over the Margate area.

"At the time when they got here, there was a lot of lightning strikes still going on," Margate police Sgt. Robert Kriplear said. "So, they were able to get a car back there -- one of the police cars. They picked him up in one of the police cars and got him back here. The rescue personnel transferred him to the hospital, where he is currently at now."

People who were working in the area said their boss told them to seek shelter just before the man was struck by lightning.

"His brother is in the backyard, running, running, running, screaming, 'My brother! My brother! My brother! Don't go! My brother!'" Iris Rosario said.  

Authorities said paramedics performed CPR on Eltine as he was being transported to Northwest Medical Center.

Eltine was an employee of Potter's Lawn and Landscaping. 

A GoFundMe page has been set up by Eltine's loved ones.

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