Jersey Shore Lifeguard Killed by Lightning Strike

Seven others were injured
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 31, 2021 9:53 AM CDT
Updated Sep 1, 2021 1:20 PM CDT
Lightning Strike Kills Lifeguard at Jersey Shore
A note left with flowers is seen placed by a lifeguard chair on the sand at the beach in Berkeley Township, N.J., where a young lifeguard was killed and seven others injured by a lightning strike, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.   (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

(Newser) – A young lifeguard was killed and seven other people, including four other lifeguards, were injured when lightning struck a Jersey Shore beach Monday afternoon, authorities tell the AP. It marked the second death of a young lifeguard at the Jersey Shore in a little over a week. The New York Times reports the lifeguard who died has been identified as Keith Pinto, 19, of Toms River. It was his fourth summer working as a lifeguard in Berkeley Township; NJ.com reports his twin brother also worked as a lifeguard there.

The Times speaks to Christine Gailey-Glenn, who was positioned about 200 feet from the lifeguard stand and hit by residual lightning, meaning the electrical energy emanates from a direct lightning strike. "It was like a bomb," she said. "I felt this excruciating pain in my head, and crackling." She says she was knocked unconscious for several seconds, and that her son, who was also hit, struggled to walk afterwards.

Police were called at 4:31pm to the beach on 21st Avenue, near the entrance to Island Beach State Park. Pete Tortorelli was tending an outdoor bar a block away from the beach when, he said, lightning struck seemingly out of nowhere. "It looked a little cloudy in one direction but clear as anything in the other direction, and it was the first lightning of the day," he said. "Literally two minutes after I saw the lightning, every cop car in this town was screaming down the street."

Mayor Carmen Amato said his township's beaches will be closed through Thursday as crisis counselors are made available to beach staff and lifeguards. On Aug. 20, 16-year-old lifeguard Norman Inferrera III died a day after an accident in Cape May, on New Jersey's southern tip. A lifeboat he was rowing was struck by a wave and flipped over, knocking him unconscious, authorities said. (Read more lightning strike stories.)

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