As a staff sergeant flying in bombing raids over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, Michael Nicholas Tristano flirted with death on a recurring basis.
The former ball-turret gunner cheated the reaper again last week, but instead of dodging German anti-aircraft guns’ flak from inside a B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber, police say the 91-year-old veteran survived a savage attack inside his North Port home by the caregiver entrusted with his welfare.
Police say Tristano’s caregiver, whom he had known for at least a decade, clubbed him in the head multiple times with an aluminum oxygen tank and left him on the floor of his home to die on the night of May 15.
But Tristano’s will to live was too strong. Police say the caretaker, Elena Erickson, 45, of North Port, called paramedics to Tristano’s house on White Ibis Drive the next day shortly after 8 a.m. Tristano was treated at Venice Regional Bayfront Health and is now recovering at home.