Lightning Strike at New Jersey Beach Kills Lifeguard, Injures Seven Others

A lifeguard has died and seven others were injured after being struck by lightning at a New Jersey beach on Monday following thunderstorms in the area.

The Berkeley Township Police Department confirmed in a statement that four lifeguards and four beachgoers were struck by lightning at a beach near South Seaside Park in Berkeley Township, New Jersey, at around 4:35 p.m. on Monday.

The police said that one of the lifeguards died in the incident, while the seven other people involved were taken to hospital for treatment, with their conditions currently unknown.

Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen Amato paid tribute to the unnamed lifeguard on Monday evening, saying: "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."

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also released a statement about the incident, writing that: "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."

He confirmed that he had spoken to Amato on Monday about the death and "offered the full support and assistance of our administration during this difficult time."

The police department confirmed that it was continuing to investigate the incident and would release further information when it becomes available.

The National Weather Service (NWS) had issued a warning of thunderstorms in the area for Monday, but urged New Jersey residents to "get off the beach and seek shelter indoors immediately" at around 5:30 p.m. following the incident in Berkeley Township.

Fatal lightning strikes are common in the U.S. According to the NWS, lightning kills an average of 49 people a year while injuring hundreds. The odds of being struck by lightning within an 80-year lifetime are 1 in 15,300.

In early August, 37-year-old Nicholas Torchia, was struck and killed by lightning while hiking near to the John Muir Trail in Fresno County, California, with the Fresno County Coroner's Office determining that he died by electrocution caused by lightning.

Meanwhile, in July a Georgia teenager vacationing in Florida was struck by lightning when with his family at a beach bar located near the 1000 block of South Collie.

The Marco Island Police Department said that the 17-year-old's father immediately performed CPR on him after he was struck, before he was transferred in a stable condition to a local hospital by emergency medical services shortly after.

Newsweek has contacted the Berkeley Township Police Department for comment.

Lightning strike at a beach
A file photo of a branched lightning bolt near the coast. Meindert van der Haven/iStock / Getty Images Plus