New Jersey authorities reported death of a young lifeguard in Berkeley Township after being stricken by lightning at Jersey Shore beach on Monday afternoon, along with 7 other people who got injured.
This marks the second time a lifeguard was killed at the Jersey Shore in the past weeks. Earlier this month, a 16-year-old lifeguard in Cape May was killed when the boat he was rowing was hit by a wave and flipped over.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy confirmed fatality and Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy reported that others who got struck were taken to hospitals, garnering no serious, life-threatening injuries.
"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," Murphy, the state's Democratic governor, posted on Twitter. "I've spoken to Mayor Carmen Amato and offered the full support and assistance of our administration during this difficult time."
Township's beaches will be temporarily closed
"This is a tragic and heartbreaking day for our town and the entire Jersey Shore," said Amato. "This young person was out there every day protecting the lives of others. Our lifeguard teams, like so many along the shore, develop special connections with our community throughout the summer, which makes this loss even greater.
"On behalf of myself and our entire community, I offer our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of this young man," he said.
The mayor said that township's beaches will be closed Tuesday through Thursday and beach staff and lifeguards have been provided crisis counselors.
Among the people who got struck, four were lifeguards and four were beachgoers. At this time, their identities have not been disclosed.
"Lightning struck seemingly out of nowhere"
Police reported that the incident happened at 4:31 p.m. to a beach on 21st Avenue in Berkeley Township, near the entrance to Island Beach State Park, just south of Seaside Park.
Meanwhile, Pete Tortorelli said the "lightning struck seemingly out of nowhere", while he was tending an outdoor bar a block away from the beach. "It looked a little cloudy in one direction but clear as anything in the other direction, and it was the first lightning of the day," he said. "Literally two minutes after I saw the lightning, every cop car in this town was screaming down the street."
"We were at the beach today and are grateful for what you've done for us by keeping us safe at the beach," says a handwritten note left with flowers at the base of a lifeguard stand at the beach. "We are so sorry for your loss."
"Have you ever been to an air show when they break the sound barrier with that boom and you weren't prepared for it?" asked Thomas Taberoni. "This was like 100 times louder than that."
Police said an investigation of lightning strikes in the township is currently ongoing and would release further information as it becomes available.
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