"It Was My Life": Lightning Strike Survivor Thanks Daughter, Lifeguard Who Saved Him

The man, a part-time lifeguard, was struck by lightning along with his daughter, who helped save him

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    A 20-year-old man has died in the hospital after being struck by lightning at Venice Beach, officials said. Kate Larsen reports from Venice on the NBC4 News at 6 on Sunday, July, 27, 2014.

    One month and one day after lightning struck Venice Beach and killed a 20-year-old, a Southern California man who survived tearfully thanked his teen daughter and the lifeguard who helped save his life.

    Emily Kilroy and her dad, a part-time lifeguard, were in the surf just south of Venice Pier when they were jolted by the lightning that struck July 27.

    "I was scared, honestly," 15-year-old Emily Kilroy said of the day she helped save her father. "I didn't know if he was OK, I didn't even know how I knew it was a lightning strike."

    Venice Beach Lightning Victim Remembered

    [LA] Venice Beach Lightning Victim Remembered
    Friends and family mourning the loss of 20-year-old Nick Fagnano, who was fatally struck by lightning at Venice beach Sunday, describe him as a kind-hearted man who "did nothing wrong." Hetty Chang reports from Valencia for the NBC4 News at 5 on Monday, July 28, 2014.

    The strike temporarily stunned some lifeguards.

    "My vision went white from the actual flash," lifeguard Benjamin Gottlieb said. "The whole tower shook, and my next thing I was looking at was everyone running out of the water."

    Listen: 911 Call After Venice Beach Lightning Strike

    [LA] Listen: 911 Call After Venice Beach Lightning Strike
    A 911 call came in reporting injuries after a lightning strike at Venice on July 27, 2014, that left one man dead. NBC4 obtained the emergency calls, which detail the immediate response to the strike and first-hand witness accounts of what happened on the beach.

    Kilroy, too, said her mind blanked.

    "I woke up underwater and I did not know what had happened," she said.

    Then Kilroy saw her dad floating in the water unconscious.

    "I have no recollection what happened after I was struck by lightning," said her father, Bob Kilroy.

    Emily Kilroy grabbed him and yelled for the lifeguards.

    "I'm very proud for her that she's got that kind of an instinct," Bob Kilroy said.

    Bob Kilroy, a chiropractor and part-time lifeguard, was in no condition to save himself. The jolt had stopped his heart, and arriving lifeguards took over. His daughter prayed as Gottlieb began CPR.

    "I could hear (his daughter's) voice in the back of my mind saying, 'Daddy stay here, daddy be OK,' and I just wanted that to happen, and I think we all heard that," Gottlieb said. "And when you blinked your eyes, Bob, that was...that was really amazing."

    Bob Kilroy had long known Gottlieb and would wave to him almost every morning when going for a swim, but it was not until after his heart started beating again that Gottlieb realized who it was.

    He needed five days of intensive care at UCLA, but one month later he's already itching to return to lifeguarding with a new appreciation for what it can mean.

    "This time, it was my life, and the significance of it just came home to me in a whole new way," he said.

    Now, his daughter wants to learn CPR.

    "With all the work we put in to keep him here, he better stay," Emily Kilroy said. "So I'd like to help make sure of that."

    Follow NBCLA for the latest LA news, events and entertainment: iPhone/iPad App | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | RSS | Text Alerts | Email Alerts