Beach Equipped With Lightning Sensor

Members of the Pinto family stand by the sign designating the 22nd Avenue beach as the Keith Pinto Memorial Beach at White Sands. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  BERKELEY – At a recent Township Council meeting, Mayor Carmen Amato noted that the township recently installed Strike Guard system that can detect lightning from five miles away and then warn beachgoers with sirens and a strobe light.

  Last year, 19-year-old lifeguard Keith Pinto lost his life during a lightning storm while he was working at the 22nd Avenue beach in South Seaside Park. Seven other people – three of them lifeguards – were also injured that day during the very severe and very sudden storm.

  Recently, the 22nd Avenue beach was renamed for the Toms River High School North graduate. Township officials then unveiled a sign near the beach entrance showing him in his lifeguard chair. The name “Keith Pinto Memorial Beach at White Sands” is followed by “Keith left us too soon doing what he loved, serving and protecting. His sacrifice will never be forgotten. He will be remembered as a Hero, and missed by his family, friends and fellow lifeguards. ‘Sky above, sand below, peace within.’”

The detector is a small device that records lightning strikes up to 20 miles away. (screenshot by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  Berkeley isn’t the only town that has installed lightning detection systems. Brick has also done so this year.

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Staffing Down

  Amato said that it was hard to hire lifeguards this year because neighboring Island Beach State Park raised their hourly pay to $18.50. A lot of South Seaside Park lifeguards went there, so the town had to raise their pay to be competitive.

  Business Administrator John Camera said they lost their beach captain, too, and had to hire a company to help.

  Don Whiteman, a recently retired Southern Regional teacher who lives in SSP, suggested that the town hire a teacher as a captain because they can recruit their students to be lifeguards.

  Amato noted that they also hit up the Central Regional High School swim team to be lifeguards.