The motorcyclist who was killed after a lightning strike punctured his helmet has been identified.
Florida Highway Patrol said that the North Carolina man, 45, was riding on June 9 on I-95 when he was hit, causing him to crash after veering off the pavement into the median.
The man has now been named as Benjamin Austin Lee, a Charlotte resident.
The highway patrol released Lee’s name after informing his family of the death.
A family friend, Kimberly Crawford Schultz, confirmed Lee’s identity on a GoFundMe fundraising page for the victim’s family.
“With his unexpected passing, Austin leaves behind a loving family. They are all incredible individuals who deserve the very best care, love, and support in order to get through this devastating time,” she wrote.
“To anyone who knew him, knew Austin was an amazing person. He was adventurous and could not wait to ‘See the World.’ He was a generous, kind, hard-working man that had an infectious personality and was just someone that you couldn’t help but want to be around! He would share everything he had with you—his time, his possessions, his love, and his support. Heaven has truly gained an Angel!”
“Austin’s passing is tragic, not only for his loss of life but also for the devastating effects on his family. Please know that any amount—no matter how small—will benefit Austin’s family,” she added.
A person who witnessed the strike called 911, saying: “Lightning hit him. He went flying off his bike.”
“He fell out into the center of the median, the bike flew out, hit the ground and he probably went, like, 50 feet,” another caller told a dispatcher.
Some people driving by pulled over to try to help Lee. “He’s unconscious. They’re doing CPR right now,” one said.
“He’s dead. My friend is a nurse. There are people out there and she said there’s no pulse,” another added.
This is what’s left of a 45 year old man’s helmet after he was struck by lightning, while riding his motorcycle southbound, on I-95 in Volusia County this afternoon. Unfortunately he did not survive the crash. pic.twitter.com/uFklUPY8r1
— FHP Orlando (@FHPOrlando) June 9, 2019
The 911 calls were obtained by WKMG.
The Florida Highway Patrol circulated a picture showing Lee’s helmet heavily damaged by the lightning strike.
“This is what’s left of a 45-year-old man’s helmet after he was struck by lightning, while riding his motorcycle southbound, on I-95 in Volusia County this afternoon. Unfortunately, he did not survive the crash,” it said.
— WESH 2 News (@WESH) June 9, 2019
An off-duty Virginia State trooper was nearby and saw what happened. The trooper was on vacation in Florida, a Highway Patrol spokeswoman told the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
The marks on the helmet confirmed the cause of the crash, the spokeswoman added.
Pictures from the scene showed the motorcycle lying on its side in the grassy area between southbound and northbound I-95, with three patrol cars parked nearby, blocking off two of the three lanes of the highway. All three lanes were closed for a while before one was reopened to traffic.
The lightning strike came as authorities warned of severe weather in the area.