Lifeguard killed, 7 others injured after lightning strikes New Jersey beach

OCEAN COUNTY, N.J. — A New Jersey lifeguard died Monday afternoon after being struck by lightning on a South Seaside Park beach.

Seven other people were injured during the weather phenomenon, police told NJ.com.

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According to the news outlet, responding officers with the Berkeley Township Police Department determined that a total of eight people - including four lifeguards - were either struck by lightning or injured from the residual strike.

The lifeguard killed in the incident died at the scene, and the seven others were transported to an area hospital for treatment, police confirmed in a news release.

Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen Amato called the situation a “tragic and heartbreaking day for our town and the entire Jersey Shore.”

“This young person was out there everyday protecting the lives of others,” Amato said in a prepared statement. “Our lifeguard teams, like so many along the shore, develop special connections with our community throughout the summer, which makes this loss even greater.”

According to WCAU-TV, the fatal lightning strike occurred at Island Beach State Park as a cluster of storms moved over the area late Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, law enforcement sources told the TV station that the survivors were treated for headaches, dizziness and hearing issues. Although none of those injured have been identified publicly, authorities told WCAU-TV that the survivors included a 51-year-old man, a 50-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man.

“Our hearts are with the family and friends of the young lifeguard killed by today’s horrific lightning strike on the beach in Berkeley Township, and we pray for a full recovery for those injured,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in a prepared statement.

Monday’s incident is the ninth confirmed lightning fatality in the United States of 2021 and comes six days since the most recent lightning death on Aug. 24 in Wisconsin, WCAU-TV reported, citing National Lightning Safety Council data.