Freak Lightning Strike at LA Beach Kills 1, Injures 12

Storm came from nowhere, witnesses say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2014 12:33 AM CDT
Updated Jul 28, 2014 12:44 AM CDT
Lifeguards assist a person who was in the water and apparently struck by lightning in Los Angeles yesterday.   (AP Photo/Steve Christensen)
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(Newser) – A rare band of summer thunderstorms left one person dead and a dozen injured from lightning strikes at Venice Beach in Los Angeles yesterday. Witnesses tell the Los Angeles Times that the storm seemed to come from nowhere and lasted 15 minutes, causing panic as fishermen and beachgoers rushed to find shelter. A National Weather Service spokesman says lightning hit the water and the beach at least four times. A coroner's office spokesman says the dead man is in his mid-20s and that it's too early to say whether he was killed by "lightning strike, drowning, or being trampled by the crowd."

Officials say all the injured people were in or near the water when lightning struck. The strikes also caused a power outage in the area. "It was all blue skies, except there were some dark clouds coming from the south," one resident says. "Then just one big crack of lightning—pretty unexpected." Other witnesses describe the sudden storm as incredibly loud. "I heard this crackle and there was this giant bolt of lightning shooting across the sky and the loudest thunder I’ve ever heard," a witness tells CBS. (Read more Venice Beach stories.)

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