A young lifeguard was killed and seven other people, including three other lifeguards, were injured when lightning struck a Jersey Shore beach Monday afternoon, authorities said.
The victim was identified as 19-year-old Keith Pinto, a lifeguard in Berkeley Township, CBS New York reported.
It marked the second death of a young lifeguard at the Jersey Shore in a little over a week.
“It was almost like a bomb went off,” Vince Ruffolo, who was visiting from Wisconsin, told CBS New York.
Ruffolo said he was with about 15 yards away with six friends when the force of the lightning strike knocked them to the ground.
“Next thing you know, one of our colleagues sees this young man fall off the chair, off the lifeguard, and then there were people in the area trying to work on him,” Ruffolo said.
Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy said the others were taken to hospitals with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.
“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 Gov. 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.”
Amato said his township’s beaches will be closed Tuesday through Thursday as crisis counselors are made available to beach staff and lifeguards. Four of those struck were lifeguards and four others were beachgoers.
“This is a tragic and heartbreaking day for our town and the entire Jersey Shore,” Amato said in a statement. “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.
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SOURCE: CBS News, The Associated Press