A young lifeguard was killed and seven other people, including three other lifeguards, were injured when lightning struck a Jersey Shore beach Monday afternoon.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy confirmed that a lifeguard in Berkeley Township was killed in the afternoon. Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy said seven others were taken to hospitals with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.
“Our hearts are with the family and friends of the young lifeguard killed by today’s horrific lightning strike on the beach in Berkeley Township, and we pray for a full recovery for those injured,” Murphy, the state’s Democratic governor, said in a statement. “I’ve spoken to Mayor Carmen Amato and offered the full support and assistance of our administration during this difficult time.”
Amato said his township’s beaches will be closed Tuesday through Thursday as crisis counselors are made available to beach staff and lifeguards.
The mayor said eight people in total were struck by lightning, including the lifeguard who died. Four of those struck were lifeguards and four others were beachgoers.
“This is a tragic and heartbreaking day for our town and the entire Jersey Shore,” Amato said in a statement. “This young person was out there every day protecting the lives of others. Our lifeguard teams, like so many along the shore, develop special connections with our community throughout the summer, which makes this loss even greater.
“On behalf of myself and our entire community, I offer our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of this young man,” he said.
The identities of the lifeguard who died, as well as the others hurt by the lightning strike, were not immediately released.
Police were called at 4:31 p.m. ET to the beach on 21st Avenue, near the entrance to Island Beach State Park.