UK & World News

  • 28 July 2014, 14:32

Man Dies As Lightning Hits California Beachgoers

A 20-year-old man has died after lightning struck more than a dozen people at a popular beach during thunderstorms in Southern California.

The man was taken from Venice Beach in Los Angeles and later pronounced dead in hospital, the Los Angeles' County Coroner said.

Another 12 beachgoers were treated. Nine of them, including a 15-year-old boy, went to hospitals.

One was in a critical condition, while others were in a "fair" condition, Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Katherine Main said.

Some of the injured were in the water and others on the busy beach's famed boardwalk at the time of the strikes.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said a fourteenth person was struck on a golf course on Southern California's Catalina Island.

The 57-year-old man is reported to be in a stable condition.

Witnesses described scenes of panic as the sky darkened and lightning erupted shortly afterwards, with thunder and rain.

"You could hear everybody screaming," Angelica Roquemore told the Los Angeles Times.

Stuart Acher said he was struck by lightning while playing volleyball on the beach.

"We went about our game and then 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," he told local station KABC-TV.

"It went down my whole side of my right body, and my calves sort of locked up, and I fell over.

"And I looked up and everybody else was, you know, falling over."

Roger Davis was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying that his house shook and that he heard explosions.

When he ran outside, his neighbour - a doctor - was administering CPR to a victim, he told the paper.

Authorities say the thunderstorms also sparked at least two small grassland fires on the island that were quickly put out.

The unusual weather comes from monsoon moisture that has brought thunderstorms, experts say.