Note: An updated version of this story is available at this link.
Authorities have confirmed a 19-year-old lifeguard in the South Seaside Park section of Berkeley Township lost his life following a lightning strike. Six others, at last count, were injured in the strike that occurred on the 21st Avenue beach, near the southernmost portion of the neighborhood near the entrance to Island Beach State Park.
“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,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement. “I’ve spoken to Mayor Carmen Amato and offered the full support and assistance of our administration during this difficult time.”
The guard, who has yet to be identified, received CPR and shock treatment from a defibrillator before being airlifted to a hospital. At some point, the guard succumbed to the injuries that were sustained in the strike.
7 beachgoers were struck by lightning last this afternoon in Seaside Park, NJ. The storms are bringing frequent lightning, heavy downpours and gusty winds to parts of South Jersey and Delaware. Remember, there is NO safe place outside in a thunderstorm pic.twitter.com/M0Dhr6Ty8U
— Cecily Tynan (@CecilyTynan) August 30, 2021
According to local officials who spoke with Shorebeat, five individuals on the beach received lesser injuries in the strike and were taken to Community Medical Center in Toms River for treatment. A sixth victim was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune. One of the six additional victims may have been another lifeguard, however this has not been confirmed by law enforcement.
A storm passed nearby the Toms River-Berkeley Township area at about 5 p.m., bringing heavy rain inland. On the island, however, the weather largely remained overcast with peaks of sun at times.
Shorebeat will update this story (or publish an additional story) when more details become available.