VENICE BEACH, Calif. (CBSNewYork) — A day at the beach turned deadly in an instant for a man in California.
From out of nowhere on a beautiful day a freak storm hit Venice Beach and killed a 20-year-old man, injured more than a dozen people, and jolted others.
“Felt like somebody punched me in the back of the head, like right there, went down my whole side of the body. My calf locked up and I fell over, and I looked up and everyone else was fallen over,” one man said.
As wild weather breaks out across the country the incident has left some New Yorkers wondering if they should be concerned.
As CBS 2’s Emily Smith reported, lifeguards and others rushed to help everyone in need, including swimmers in the water, during the last-minute storm.
CBS 2’s cameras were on the beach on Monday, where some people didn’t seem too sure about what to do if a similar storm hit the New York area.
“I guess go under the overpass or under the boardwalk. I don’t know,” one beachgoer said.
What many might not realize is that since Superstorm Sandy, there is no ‘under the boardwalk’ because the structures have been changed to prevent water from getting through to the other side.
Veteran Long Beach lifeguard Paul Gillespie said that his team watches the weather forecast all day, and once dark clouds roll in they steer people to safety.
Gillespie said that dealing with thunder and lightning is a weekly battle in the Tri-State area. In California a thunderstorm on the beach is extremely rare, especially in July.
“You have to be aware. I am sure that’s the same problem they had out there,” Gillespie said.
The worst place to be Gillespie said, is on an open beach since you end up being the highest point for lightning. Instead, beachgoers should go inside a car, or to the nearest place of refuge the second that you hear thunder.
“We take the lifeguards off the chair or they seek shelter and we advise everyone to please get off the beach,” Gillespie explained.
Lifeguards are there to protect, but this incident was a reminder that a freak storm can kill. Now, beachgoers around New York are keeping an extra vigilant eye on the sky.
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