COCOA, Fla. — On Friday afternoon, after storms rolled through Brevard County, two witnesses sitting at Ryan's Pizza overlooking the river told Spectrum News 13 they watched lightning strike a small sail boat on the river.

  • Couple lost most of their belongings, a pet cat
  • They had moved to Florida about a year ago
  • Salvation Army is helping them with a place to stay, supplies

The boat was anchored in the water just off of Lee Wenner Park. 

The owners, Justin and Mishel Gaspard, were on their way home from school when they noticed their boat sitting in the water a little lower than usual. Once they got closer, they realized it was sinking and tried to rescue two of their cats. Only one survived. 

The couple, both veterans, say it was hard watching their home sink so quickly. The 25-foot boat was called "It's five o'clock somewhere" after the famous song.

The Gaspards say they moved to Florida about a year ago because they liked to travel with their boat. They don't have family in the state to help them get through this tough time. 

"One of my favorite things of living on the boat is being on the water and being able to take my home with me," Mishel Gaspard said, adding she can't imagine not living on a boat again. 

Everything they had was inside that boat.

"When we got there I asked my wife if the boat looked a little low on the water. By the time I got out there 85 percent was under water," Justin Gaspard explains. 

The couple at Ryan's restaurant were the ones who called 911 and told police they watched lightning strike the boat, and it sunk completely within the hour.

That couple is paying for the veterans to stay at a nearby hotel for two days. They tell Spectrum News 13 they hope other people step in and help the couple since they lost everything and don't have family in the area. 

The Salvation Army is assisting the couple with shelter and supplies. The Cocoa Police Department Marine unit responded to assist the victim. The FWC is investigating.