A lifeguard was killed and six others were injured after lightning struck a beach in New Jersey on Monday afternoon, New York Post reports.
The incident occurred at the Island Beach State Park in South Seaside Park, even though the closest thunderstorm to the area was about four miles away. “Lighting bolts have been known to travel 30 miles outside of an actual thunderstorm cloud,” New Jersey 101.5 chief meteorologist Dan Zarrow said.
Zarrow pointed out that lightning typically tries to find the easiest way to get to the ground, which would lead him to believe the lifeguard was sitting in his chair when he was hit. “The lifeguard was the highest point in his chair which is why he got struck,” he explained. “The electricity travels through him, through the chair into the ground. That’s why a second lifeguard may have gotten struck. That’s why if anyone was nearby they also may have gotten zapped.”
A second lifeguard was indeed also struck, along with five people. These individuals, which included a 50-year-old woman, 51-year-old man, and 19-year-old male, were taken to the hospital and treated for headaches, dizziness, and hearing issues.
The lifeguard, who was struck by lightning, reportedly couldn’t hear afterwards, and was later pronounced dead.
The Berkeley Township Police Department has not yet confirmed the lifeguard’s death on its Facebook page, but said an investigation has been launched, writing, “The Berkeley Township Police Department and local agencies are currently investigating reports of lightning strikes in the South Seaside Park section of town.”