13 people were struck by lightning on Sunday in Venice Beach, California. One man, as of yet unidentified, was killed by the strike. Nine people were taken to a local hospital for observation, including a 15-year-old, with one remaining in intensive care.
The man who was killed was reportedly in the water when the lightning hit. After the strike, lifeguards were dispatched to search for a swimmer who had gone missing. He was found 90 minutes after the lightning strike face-down in the water and declared dead soon after.
Paul Dionne, who was body boarding in the water, was luckier.
"The next thing I know I was trying to get my head above water for air," he said. His partner, Jose Mendoza, was only a few yards away.
"He was on his face, we kind of carried him. He was like you know really heavy and he wasn't cooperating with us," Mendoza said. "He was speaking, but we didn't know what he was saying. He was asking me what happened."
Stuart Acher told KABC-TV he was playing volleyball on the beach when "all of a sudden, there was a big flash of light and a boom, and it felt like someone punched me in the back of my head."
"It went down my whole side of my right body, and my calves sort of locked up, and I fell over," he said. "I looked up and everybody else was, you know, falling over."
Small thunderstorms, not uncommon in the summer, occurred in sporadic bursts throughout California. A 57-year-old man playing golf on Catalina Island, 40 miles away from Venice Beach, was struck by lightning. His injuries were non-life threatening.
When lightning is present at a beach, all beachgoers should move away from the water and head to their cars calmly. Cars are a safe spot for when lightning is directly overhead. Alternatively, one can crouch down with their feet together and their hands over their head to lessen the impact of a lightning strike. Should you or someone you know be struck by lightning or be in the vicinity of a lightning strike, phone emergency services immediately. Lightning strikes are known for causing cardiac arrest, respiratory system paralysis, memory gaps, anxiety, and physical paralysis, amongst a slew of other ailments.
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