WATCH: Venice Beach went from being a spot for Californians to cool off on a muggy day to a medical triage unit in a flash, as a sudden thunderstorm hit and a lightning strike killed one person and injured several others. Francis Silvaggio reports.
LOS ANGELES – A 20-year-old man died after lightning struck or shook up 14 people at a popular Los Angeles beach and a golf course, a coroner’s official said Sunday.
Los Angeles County coroner’s Lt. Larry Dietz said the man was taken from Venice Beach and pronounced dead at a hospital.
Nine people went to hospitals, including one who remained in critical condition. Los Angeles fire spokeswoman Katherine Main says they had effects ranging from anxiety to needing resuscitation, although not all may have actually been struck.
The lightning hit as rare summer thunderstorms swept through Southern California.
Steve Christensen said his friend tried to help when lifeguards began searching for a missing swimmer.
“He went out to the water to find him and walked right into him,” Christensen said. “He was face down on the bottom.”
Christensen said his friend pulled the man from the water, and lifeguards began trying to resuscitate him before taking him away on a truck.
Stuart Acher said he was struck while playing volleyball on the beach.
“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 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.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the 14th person was struck on a golf course on Southern California’s Catalina Island. The 57-year-old man was reported in stable condition.
© The Associated Press, 2014