Lightning strikes in Los Angeles County killed a 20-year-old man in Venice Beach today and injured nine other people, one of them critically, authorities said.
Eight people — seven adults and a 15-year-old said in broadcast reports to be a boy — were hospitalized after lightning struck Venice Beach around 2:20 p.m., said Katherine Main of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Another was struck earlier on Catalina Island, according to the sheriff’s department.
Lt. Larry Dietz of the county coroner’s office said a 20-year-old man was pronounced dead at a hospital after being taken there from Venice Beach.
He was unable to confirm that the deceased victim was a swimmer who, according to the fire department, was in grave condition when pulled from the water and taken to a hospital with CPR in progress.
“The guy wasn’t moving. He wasn’t responding at all,” beachgoer Jesus Zamudio told the Los Angeles Times.
Six people, including the teen, were hospitalized in fair condition and were expected to fully recover, fire officials said.
All victims were believed to be identified, Main said.
City fire paramedics set up a triage and treatment center on the crowded beach near Washington Boulevard.
Thirteen people were assessed, including those who were hospitalized, according to reports from the scene.
Angelica Roquemore, who was visiting the beach with her family from Bakersfield, told The Times the lightning startled fishermen and others on the Venice pier.
“My hair was standing up,” she said.
Roger Davis, who told the newspaper he was inside his home on Ocean Front Walk near Driftwood Street when the lightning struck, said, “The whole place shook.”
He ran outside and saw his neighbor, who is a doctor, administering CPR to a victim, he told The Times.
Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a statement saying he and his wife were praying for the victims.
“This tragedy reminds us that we can take nothing for granted or underestimate the power of nature,” he said.
Also hit by lightning from the same storm, but 90 minutes earlier, was a 57-year-old man struck on a golf course at Avalon, on Santa Catalina Island.
Minor flooding hit Avalon, and at least two brush fires broke out as a thunderstorm hit there at midday today.
“At 12:55 p.m., Doppler radar indicated a line of thunderstorms between the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Catalina, producing locally-heavy rainfall,” the National Weather Service said. “This line of storms was drifting to the northwest at around 10 miles per hour.”
The small number of Los Angeles County firefighters and deputies on the island were scrambling with several simultaneous emergencies at and near Avalon, according to Sgt. Robert Berardi.
The Avalon lightning strike victim was preliminarily identified as a 57-year-old man, who was struck on a golf course. He was in stable condition a deputy at the sheriff’s Avalon Station said.
Two brushfires from lightning strikes were confirmed in the bone-dry back country, “and a couple more were popping up” as the storm moved northwest across the island, Berardi said. They were all put out quickly. Lightning also struck and damaged the exterior house and a car in Redondo Beach, where power outages were reported, according to media accounts.
The thunderstorm had earlier drenched the San Diego coast, and struck Santa Catalina Island at 12:45 p.m. today.
The National Weather Service issued a special marine weather advisory, warning of thunder, lightning, hail and possibly sudden choppy waves.
Thunderstorms are unusual along the Southern California coast because the ocean tends to cool the thermal dynamics required for such storms, NWS officials say.
The storm dissipated as it moved northwest up the coast.