Marine from Petaluma declared brain dead after a lightning strike

A Marine Corps mechanic from Petaluma was mortally injured in North Carolina when a lightning bolt struck an aircraft as he worked on it.

Skyler Dean James, 23, a 2012 graduate of Petaluma High School, was declared brain dead five days after he and a fellow Marine mechanic were injured July 11 at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville.

The second Marine, whose identity was not released, recovered. The website reports that on Sunday Cpl. James was pronounced brain dead and that his respiration and heartbeat were being sustained by a ventilator.

James played football at Petaluma High and prior to enlisting in the Marine Corps in March 2014 studied at Santa Rosa Junior College and worked at a Round Table Pizza restaurant.

He was trained as an aircraft mechanic and assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261. He was promoted to corporal in October.

On July 11, he and the second Marine were working on one of the squadron’s MV-22 Osprey, renowned for its capability to take off and land vertically, like a helicopter.

The Marine Corps said that when a lightning storm moved within ?5 miles of the air station, the personnel working on the flight line were notified to leave. James and the Marine he was working with were in the process of leaving the Osprey when it was struck by lightning.

James’ family members could not be reached Tuesday.

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