At around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, a rare summer lightning storm shot a bolt of lightning that hit the water off the coast of Southern California at Venice Beach and Catalina Island, striking 14 people, killing one and leaving another in critical condition, authorities said.
The storm that struck packed Venice Beach, Calif., killing a 20-year-old man and injuring up to 12 others, came soon after the same storm that struck a person on Catalina Island, ABC News reports.
A 57-year-old man was struck by lightning on a golf course on Santa Catalina Island, often called Catalina Island. Steve Denning, a law enforcement technician with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said the man was hospitalized in stable condition and had no further information.
CBS Los Angeles reported four people were treated at the scene at Venice Beach and the others were taken to hospitals. The 20-year-old was pronounced dead at Marina Del Rey Hospital, the coroner’s office said. One other person was in critical condition.
The man who died was swimming and went missing in the water after the lightning strike, according to ABC station KABC-TV in Los Angeles. He was pulled from the water 90 minutes later, given CPR and transported to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. His identity was not immediately released.
The surfer in critical condition was transported to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood.
Los Angeles County lifeguards say it doesn’t appear either the deceased swimmer or the surfer took a direct hit, but the deadly surge of electricity knocked both of them unconscious.
Los Angeles County Fire Lifeguard Division Capt. Danny Douglas said he had never seen anything like this before, and that authorities were still trying to determine what exactly happened. "We don't have any idea whether (lightning) hit the water, hit the land or hit some buildings," Douglas said. "We just have reports of one and then some people are saying multiple lightning strikes."
City Fire spokeswoman Katherine Main said a total of 13 people were struck by lightning at Venice beach, including a 15-year-old. “The fire department assessed a total of 13 patients, and transported a total of eight patients,” she said.
Five of the injured were treated but did not require hospitalization, she said. “Everyone that had a medical complaint was either in or near the water,” Main said.
Fire officials said most of those taken to hospitals were mainly shaken up and were expected to recover. Some appear to have been in the water and others on the beach’s famed boardwalk. CBS News reports lifeguards performed CPR on at least one person pulled from the water.
The unusual weather came from monsoon moisture that brought a line of brief but fierce afternoon thunderstorms to the region. Hundreds of lightning strikes were reported, but the storms were vanishing by later Sunday afternoon as they moved northwest.