Lightning kills man on Golden Gate Estates construction site

Lightning killed a construction worker in Golden Gate Estates on Wednesday afternoon, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Robert Wiley, 35, died at the scene as he descended from scaffolding while doing rebar work on a single-family home at 1365 47th Ave. N.E., which is just northeast of the Collier County Fairgrounds, according to Karie Partington, spokeswoman for Sheriff’s Office.

“They saw bad weather approaching, decided to get down and that’s when he was hit,” she said.

The Sheriff’s Office is conducting a death investigation, and detectives are trying to determine which companies had permits to work on the home. Wiley was working for a subcontractor, Partington said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been advised of the death, and will determine whether there are any criminal charges for the employers in the case, she added.

Wednesday evening, rain fell on the muddy construction site. The gray concrete walls of the single-family home in progress stood surrounded by planks of wood, plastic buckets and tarps. Scaffolding framed what looked like a front door.

Neighbors on either side of the home said they had not heard about a lightening strike that day.

It was the second time a person has been struck by lightning locally in a week. On Friday, lightning struck a man in Bonita Springs as he was checking out his truck at a weigh station at a rock mining operation off Bonita Grande Drive. He survived.

This week is Lightning Safety Awareness Week, according to the National Weather Service. May through September are the most active months for lightning in Southwest Florida.

The state led the country with five deaths by lightning strike in 2012. This year, there have been seven lightning deaths reported in the United States, including two in Florida, according to the National Weather Service. The most recent death occurred June 8, when Aaron E. Singleton, 57, was struck while in a boat on Lake Okeechobee.

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