A 20-year-old man who was among 14 people struck by lightning on Sunday has died in hospital after rare summer thunderstorms swept through Southern California.
Nine other people were hospitalized – including a 15-year-old and one in a critical condition – after the lightning hit Venice Beach in Los Angeles about 2.50pm.
The incident occurred in the 3500 block of South Ocean Front Walk, which is the famed Venice Fishing Pier.
Those enjoying a Sunday afternoon on the beach said they saw the bright flash of the lightning before people started fleeing the water, in what one witness described as like a scene from the film Jaws.
While others were treated at scene and released, a swimmer who went missing in the water, sparking a major search by lifegaurds, was among those hospitalized, Los Angeles fire spokeswoman Katherine Main said.
Photos of the scene show lifeguards desperately giving CPR to a young man, who they pulled from the water.
Witnesses said the victim did not appear to respond to the CPR.
‘The guy wasn’t moving. He wasn’t responding at all,’ Jesus Zamudio of Riverside told The Los Angeles Times.
‘It was sad to see, the guy looked young.’
Steve Christensen added that his friend had been body-surfing and was sitting on the beach when lifeguards began searching for a missing swimmer.
‘He (Christensen’s friend) went out to the water to find him and walked right into him,’ Mr Christensen said. ‘He was face down on the bottom.’
Mr Christensen added his friend pulled the man, who appeared to be in his 20s, from the water, and lifeguards began CPR before taking him away on a truck.
The identity of the 20-year-old that was killed has not been released.
Confirmation of the cause of death was pending an autopsy. Los Angeles County Coroner’s Lt. Larry Dietz said he also can’t confirm whether the man was a swimmer who was pulled from the water and given CPR.
It is thought the man in a critical condition is a 55-year-old who had been surfing.
Other witnesses told the publication the storm ‘came out of nowhere’.
Joe Doro also told NBC Los Angeles: ‘It was the loudest thunder I’ve ever heard.
‘It was like a scene out of Jaws, all the mothers were going in to grab their kids and drag them out of the water.