Lightning strike at New Jersey beach kills lifeguard, injures 7, police say

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A lifeguard was killed and seven others were injured after lightning struck a beach in New Jersey Monday afternoon, authorities said. 

Police were called to the 21st Avenue Beach in the South Seaside Park section of Berkeley Township around 4:35 p.m. for a report of a lightning strike. When they arrived at the scene, police determined that eight people, including four lifeguards, were struck by lightning or injured from a residual strike, according to the Berkeley Township Police Department.

At least one of the victims, a Berkeley Township lifeguard, died from his injuries. He was the ninth lightning fatality in the U.S. this year and the second death in New Jersey, according to the National Lightning Safety Council. 

A lifeguard chair sits overturned on the sand at the beach in Berkeley Township, N.J., where a young lifeguard was killed and seven others injured by a lightning strike, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

The others victims were taken to area hospitals for treatment, police said.

“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,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy wrote on Twitter. “I’ve spoken to Mayor Carmen Amato and offered the full support and assistance of our administration during this difficult time.”

On Monday night, a handwritten note in purple ink was left with flowers at the base of a lifeguard stand at the beach.

“We were at the beach today and are grateful for what you’ve done for us by keeping us safe at the beach,” the note read. “We are so sorry for your loss.”

A note left with flowers is seen placed by a lifeguard chair on the sand at the beach in Berkeley Township, N.J., where a young lifeguard was killed and seven others injured by a lightning strike, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen Amato called the incident a “tragic and heartbreaking day for our town and the entire Jersey Shore.”

“This young person was out there every day protecting the lives of others,” Amato said in a statement. “Our lifeguard teams, like so many along the shore, develop special connections with our community throughout the summer, which makes this loss even greater.”

Berkeley Township ocean beaches will be closed for swimming Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, as beach staff and lifeguards will be off, police said. 

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

South Seaside Park is about 60 miles south of New York City.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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