Family remembers ‘hero’ father who helped warn beachgoers about impending storm in Seaside Park

Patrick Dispoto was fatally struck by lightning while trying to warn beachgoers about an impending thunderstorm.

Jim Murdoch

Jun 27, 2024, 10:27 PM

Updated 24 days ago


The son of an Ocean County man who was fatally struck by lightning while trying to warn a group of people to get off the beach in Seaside Park is calling his father a hero.
News 12 New Jersey spoke with Patrick Dispoto’s son Cole about how he wants the world to remember his dad.
“Not a lot of people can say that their dad died a hero. That is a little bit of a silver lining there,” said Cole. “Just a wonderful man to be raised by and that was him in a nutshell, he was a father.”
Dispoto ran back to the Seaside Park beach Sunday night to urge others to seek shelter when the storm moved in. Dispoto was struck by lightning, causing a deadly heart attack.
Cole and his sister Rachel both spent years as ocean lifeguards and knowing Seaside Park now has an upgraded detection system brings them some comfort.
“I know it was already in the works, bit of a coincidence there, but I am very glad that’s up and running now,” said Cole.
The upgrade came after another tragedy in 2021 when Berkely Township lifeguard Keith Pinto died from a lightning strike originating miles away.
“I went to high school with Keith Pinto’s older brother Tyler. We did cross country together he’s a great guy, he’s been very helpful throughout this process together, he’s great people,” Cole said.
Since Sunday, Cole and his family received condolences from all over the world and have a message for those who want to help.
“If anyone out there is looking to donate towards a charity, anything to do with blood donation, the American Red Cross, I know that’s the legacy [my father] would have wanted. That was a big part of his life. That’s just what he would have wanted,” said Cole.
Cole wants his father’s tragedy to be the last at the Jersey Shore and wants everyone watching or reading this article to heed the warnings about weather danger, and at the first signs of trouble to get to safety.
“He was the best dad a kid could ask for. I speak for my sister too,” Cole said.
One of the people who was on the beach at the time of the incident sent News 12 New Jersey this statement that read in part:
"My friends and I noticed the dark clouds and immediately started packing up to leave and Patrick ran up to us quickly and told us we better get going because it’s about to be a thunderstorm and we don’t want to be here when it does and smiled and ran off and told us to be safe and we told him ‘Thank you so much’…Such a short but also sweet encounter. It was the most admirable, most selfless act a man could ever do even for just one moment. He saved many who are so grateful for a man who had to make sure some kids were safe and sound. Wish we could’ve done the same. He will forever be in our thoughts and our hearts as someone admirable, an incredible hero. An Angel, in fact, who has made an impact. We are beyond appreciative and just wish we could thank him endlessly. Our thoughts, love, comfort and our hearts are with Patrick and his loved ones.”
New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson says that New Jersey averages one to two fatal lightning strikes a year. The numbers have been reduced nationally by 50% since the year 2000, thanks to better detection systems, weather apps and radar technology.

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