VENICE (CBSLA.com) — Beachgoers along the Venice Boardwalk were in a somber mood Monday in the wake of a lightning strike that killed a 20-year-old man and injured a dozen more the day before.
L.A. City Fire reported that the incident occurred around 2:20 p.m. Sunday in the 3500 block of Ocean Front Walk.
“The noise was crazy, like the sky is falling down,” said Matthieu Mebarki, who was walking on the Boardwalk at the time. “I was scared. We went into a shop very quickly.”
Officials said eight of the 13 people struck were transported to local hospitals.
Two people, both in the water, suffered critical injuries. Nick Fagnano, 20, passed away from his injuries. A 55-year-old man who was surfing was critically injured and was still hospitalized Monday. Six others were in fair condition, including a 15-year-old boy.
“And while they’re working on this one patient more people started coming in with minor injuries and asking questions. At that point, it got a little hectic,” L.A. County Fire Department inspector Rick Flores said.
Flores said that, although thunderstorms were in the forecast, there was no warning or way the incident could have been prevented: “No big clouds in the sky. There was just one cloud that basically came by and there was one lightning strike. So, there was no warning to heed. It was just that one strike that did it.”
The fire inspector had advice for beachgoers: “If you see lightning and within 30 seconds you hear the thunder, get to a safe place,” and out of the water.
The people who complained about being struck by the lightning were either in the water, or very close to it, LAFD Battalion Chief Armando Hogan said.
The lightning strike also caused a power outage in the area.
Scattered showers and thunderstorms were expected across the region Monday, the National Weather Service reported.
The NWS on Monday encouraged people to follow them on Twitter (@NWSLosAngeles) for live weather updates throughout the day.