Hypothermia blamed for Brigantine man’s death

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A Lafayette Boulevard resident, 73-year-old Lester Kaplan, is the only known person in Atlantic County to die as a direct result of Tropical Storm Sandy.

Kaplan had elected to stay in his home and ride out the storm despite a mandatory evacuation order for Brigantine. He was discovered after his wife, Atara, called the local authorities when she was unable to reach her husband by phone.

According to Fire Chief Jim Holl, Kaplan was discovered in his residence unconscious Friday afternoon, Nov. 2. Brigantine firefighters discovered him on the dining room floor inside the flooded residence around 4 p.m. and arranged transport to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City.

Kaplan went into cardiac arrest en route and was pronounced dead on arrival. The initial diagnosis was hypothermia.

The Beachcomber News was unable to contact Atara Kaplan, but other press reports stated that Lester Kaplan was “very strong-willed” and “stubborn.”

“This is a perfect example of when emergency personnel tell people they need to evacuate, they need to go,” stated Chief Holl.

First responders in Brigantine were dispatched during the storm to rescue more than 100 residents who chose not to evacuate but ended up needing help to get to safety. These included a quadriplegic, an individual on a respirator whose 400-pound wheelchair required eight men to lift, and a woman rescued by means of a surfboard brought to a boat in chest-deep water.

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