Rick Beebe Dead: Florida Tea Party Candidate Dies At Restaurant Forum

05/04/2012 01:12 pm ET | Updated May 04, 2012

Rick Beebe, a Tea Party candidate for supervisor of elections in Highlands County, Florida, died this week, just moments after completing a question-and-answer session at a local restaurant.

Reports vary as to whether Beebe, 52, suffered a massive stroke or heart attack. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital at 8:34 p.m. on Tuesday, shortly after arriving.

Highlands Today reports that Beebe was among five candidates vying for the supervisor of elections post at a Tea Party-sponsored event at Homer's Smorgasbord, a local establishment.

Jack Nelson, a fellow member of the Highlands County Tea Party, described his performance that night as "gangbusters."

"He got up out of his chair, he stood up in front of everybody, and he was full of campaign fire. He was the only one who got two or three rounds of applause on his answers," he told Highlands Today.

After he sat back down, Beebe reportedly began sweating profusely and wiping his brow. Moments later, Beebe slumped over out of his seat.

MaryAnn Lewis, a candidate for the school board present at the event, described the tense moments to the Sebring News-Sun.

"We didn't hear him [fall]. The chair didn't fall over, just suddenly he was on the floor. ... It took a few seconds to register, and then a second to react," she said. "He wasn't breathing, he really wasn't breathing. ... It was terrible to just look over and see him on the floor. It was a difficult scene. It was hard. It was very, very hard."

A nurse quickly attended to Beebe and attempted to revive him. A short time later, he was taken in an ambulance to a Florida hospital.

According to the News-Sun, Beebe is survived by his wife Lucy, three children and five grandchildren.

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