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Man dies after lightning hits 13 people in Venice Beach

A man in his 20s was killed after lightning struck 13 people Sunday at Venice Beach in Southern California, according to news reports.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Katherine Main told The Washington Post that during a thunderstorm witnesses heard a loud thunder clap and saw lightning strike Venice Beach.

People who were there said, “It sounded like a sonic boom” and “The whole place shook.” One said, “We got zapped” and another claimed, “My hair was standing up.”

Lifeguards assist a person who was in the water and apparently struck by lightning Sunday July 27, 2014, in Los Angeles. Authorities said lightning struck 14 people, leaving two critically injured, as rare summer thunderstorms swept through Southern California on Sunday. (AP Photo/Steve Christianson)

Those injured at the beach were either in or near the water, Main said. Their injuries ranged from two cardiac arrests to anxiety.

After the lightning strike, lifeguards started searching for a swimmer who went missing in the water. Steve Christensen said his friend, who had been body-surfing, helped the lifeguards search. “He was face down on the bottom,” Christensen told the Associated Press.

Lifeguards search the waters for injured victims after a lightning strike injured people in the water in Venice, California July 27, 2014. (Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters)

The man was pulled from the water 90 minutes later, given CPR and transported to a local hospital in critical condition, KABC-TV reported. He died from his injuries. Authorities have not released his name.

A body-boarder was luckier.

Paul Dionne told KCAL9 he was in the water when lightning hit. “The next thing I know I was trying to get my head above the water for air,” he said.

His partner, Jose Mendoza, told the station he was just 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.”

A total of seven adults and a 15-year-old were transported to local hospitals. One was in grave condition, one was in critical condition and six were in fair condition, Main said.

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.”

A man is treated by a paramedics after a lightning strike in the water in Venice, California July 27, 2014. (Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters)

On Catalina Island, about 40 miles away, lightning struck a 57-year-old man and ignited several brush fires.

The man did not suffer life-threatening injuries and was listed in stable condition, Sgt. Robert Berardi of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told the Los Angeles Times.

Click on markers for locations and more information.

Lindsey Bever is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. Tweet her: @lindseybever



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Fred Barbash · July 27, 2014

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