Update: Autopsy confirms Bakersfield man struck, killed by lightning
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - The Kern County Coroner's Office announed Thursday that an autopsy has confirmed earlier suspicions about a lightning-related fatality that occurred during a storm Saturday evening.
Stephen Ermigarat, 62, was found unresponsive just before 7 p.m. by a family member under a tree in the 1300 block of Curnow Road, just south of Bakersfield.
First-responders attempted to render medical aid, but Ermigarat was declared dead at the scene.
Sheriff and fire officials said Monday that lightning was suspected, but would not confirm it until after the autopsy had been performed. Evidence on the property reportedly indicated a lightning strike had occurred.
"There were some broken limbs. It appeared there was some possible burning to the tree," Ray Pruitt, of the sheriff's office, said Monday. "That's certainly one of the possibilities we're looking at, that he was standing near the tree and the tree was struck by lightning."
Ermigarat was a longtime resident of Bakersfield and a graduate of California State University, Bakersfield. He had more than 30 years experience working in the banking business.
In 2008, he took a position as vice president of Bank of the Sierra.
A man who said he knew the victim's family on Monday told Eyewitness News the home where Ermigarat was struck belonged to his mother. He had gone there during the storm to check on her condition.