Pediatric nurse performs CPR on one of two Fla. teens struck by lightning

The nurse immediately performed CPR on the teen after she found him face down in the sand and not breathing

By Joe Marusak and Mike Reader
The Charlotte Observer

CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Two Charlotte teenagers were hospitalized after lightning struck them on a beach in Clearwater, Fla., on Tuesday afternoon.

Cameron Poimboeuf, 15, was upgraded from critical to serious condition on Wednesday at Tampa General Hospital, a hospital spokesman said.

Jansen Tabor, 18, of Matthews, was upgraded from fair to good condition.

Tabor told police that he and Poimboeuf began running for shelter when a storm rolled in. The next thing Tabor remembered was waking up on the sand, the Clearwater Police Department said on Twitter.

Victims were on beach when storm rolled in. Last thing one remembers is running to seek shelter. Next thing he knows he wakes up on sand.

Poimboeuf was visiting his girlfriend’s family, police and fire spokesman Rob Shaw told the Tampa Bay Times. Tabor is related to Poimboeuf’s girlfriend, he said.

Vacationers quickly came to the teens’ aid, administering CPR until paramedics arrived.

Cassandra Thomas, a pediatric nurse from Pennsylvania, saw the pair in distress from her 16th-floor room in the Lighthouse Towers condominiums. She immediately left her room to help the teens. “And, of course, the elevator wasn’t working,” she told the newspaper.

When she got to the beach, she saw one of the teens lying face down in the sand. “He had no pulse, not breathing,” Thomas told the newspaper. “He was blue-gray.”

She began performing CPR. “When someone needs help, that’s your job,” Thomas, 31, said in the interview. “If you’re at work or not, you’re there to help. Somebody needed to help that boy.”

Kirk Pattison, a 43-year-old police officer from Illinois, was close behind Thomas and assisted with CPR until the paramedics got there.

“Then we helped carry him up to the pool house,” Pattison told the newspaper. “We continued CPR there until they got all their equipment hooked up on him.

“And after several minutes doing CPR and one electrical shock, they were able to get a heartbeat back, at least stable enough that they thought they could get him on a cart and put him in the ambulance, and took him to a hospital.”

Thomas and Pattison told reporters they were hoping for the best for Poimboeuf.

“I was so, so, so grateful to help him,” Thomas told the Tampa Bay Times. “I just wish I was there sooner. I wish I was a little bit closer to him than I was and got him sooner than I did.”

“If you were in that situation, you’d want somebody to help, especially with children,” Pattison told ABC Tampa affiliate WFTS. “That’s something somebody should do for anybody else.”

The storms that produced the lightning appeared suddenly on the beach.

“They went from not a cloud in the sky to blinding storms in about a half hour,” chief meteorologist Jim Van Fleet of TV station WTSP told the Tampa Bay Times. “It just blew up on them. If they weren't looking to the west … they would have had no idea.”

Still, he said, people on the beach should have heard the approaching thunder.

On its Facebook page, the Clearwater Police Department said: “The incident reminds us how dangerous lightning is and the importance of heading indoors when storms threaten – not just overhead, but anywhere nearby.”

The National Weather Service said 14 people have been killed by lightning this year, four in Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Copyright 2016 The Charlotte Observer

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