The Villages Daily Sun

Lightning Strike Survivor Thanks First Responders

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Posted: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 8:00 am | Updated: 10:14 am, Wed Nov 22, 2017.

The sound of sirens usually is a sign that emergency help is needed. But on Saturday, sirens were heard for a happier reason.

Bill and Cindy Moeller and their 13-year-old son, Brayden, reunited with the first responders and bystanders who were on the scene when Brayden was struck by lightning on Labor Day.

Bill and Cindy said these people are the reason their son is alive.

“There are not enough words to say that can tell everyone how thankful we are,” Bill said.

Brayden was struck at The Villages Polo Club after watching one of his friends compete in The Villages Cup tournament. Bill said it was one of the scariest days of his life.

“We were kicking the ball around, and all of the sudden, I heard the loudest boom and saw Brayden drop,” he said. “He wasn’t breathing, and I lost it.”

During the emotional gathering Saturday, Bill, Cindy and Brayden were able to shake hands, hug and even cry a little with all who were involved.

“I don’t remember most of what happened,” Brayden said. “But I’m thankful for everyone who helped me.”

American Medical Response first responders Ariel Munro and Kris Kloes were first on the scene.

“First, it was called in as a lightning strike, and then we were told it was pediatric,” Kloes said. “When we got there, Brayden was not responsive.”

Michael McQueary is an EMT/firefighter with the District Public Safety Department and the lightning strike call came in during the fourth shift of his career.

“It was a call I will always remember,” McQueary said. “Seeing him today is the reason I do this. We make bad situations good, and this has a happy ending.”

The Moellers were able to thank everyone who was involved, including the 
911 dispatcher, Jennifer Gant.

“I have had calls before about children, but never like this,” Gant said. “You just always hope for the best, and it’s great to see he is doing well.”

Bill said he thought he was going to lose his son, but the quick response is what saved Brayden’s life.

“Even before any first responders arrived, Anderson DaSilva performed CPR on Brayden,” Bill said. “He was calm and kept working on him even though I was going crazy.”

DaSilva is the tournament coordinator and was cleaning up with other staff members when he heard the loud bang and saw Brayden go down. He immediately ran over and started CPR.

“I didn’t have time to think about anything. I just went into action,” DaSilva said. “I am so happy to see him today. We are all like family since 
that day.”

Deputies Holly Eckstin and Samuel Blankenship were on the scene too and had a gift to give Brayden on Saturday.

“We have a soccer ball for him with positive things on it,” Eckstin said. “Whenever he is feeling bad, he can read them and hopefully feel better.”

The first responders agreed CPR is what saved Brayden’s life, and they stressed the importance of 
CPR certification.

AMR operations manager Christine Kennedy said DaSilva should be very proud of himself for playing a big part in Brayden’s survival.

“Bystander CPR is priceless,” Kennedy said. “He was there and he made a difference.”

As a small token of their appreciation, the Moellers gave everyone who was involved a small gift.

“We have cookies in the shape of lightning bolts for everyone,” Cindy said. “We are really grateful to everyone.”

Lisa Lawson is a staff writer with The Villages Daily Sun. She can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5304, or lisa.lawson@thevillagesmedia.com.