BERKELEY – A lifeguard was killed and seven others were injured after lightning struck an Ocean County beach, officials said.
The incident happened at the South Seaside Park section of Berkeley Township between 21st and 23rd streets around 4:30 p.m. today.
Berkeley Township Police Chief Kevin H. Santucci said that upon arriving, first aid and advanced life support was rendered to the victims.
A 19-year-old lifeguard was killed by the lighting strike. It was determined that a total of 8 victims, four of which were lifeguards, were reported to have been either struck or were injured from the residual lightning strike.
The survivors were taken to Community Medical Center in Toms River for treatment after suffering headaches, dizziness and hearing issues.
Governor Phil Murphy issued a statement shortly after the incident. “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 said. “I’ve spoken to Mayor Carmen Amato and offered the full support and assistance of our administration during this difficult time.”
Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen Amato said “This is a tragic and heart breaking day for our town and the entire Jersey Shore. 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.”
Amato added “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.”
According to police, Berkeley Township’s ocean beaches will be closed for swimming on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday but open to sunbathers. Lifeguards and staff will be off the next three days and crisis counselors will be available for beach staff employees.
This will be the ninth confirmed lightning fatality in the U.S. this year, according to the National Lightning Safety Council.