One Man Dies, Multiple People Injured After Venice Beach Lightning Strike

Associated Press
A file photo showing a view of the Venice Beach boardwalk in August, 2012.

UPDATED: A 20-year-old man has died from the lightning strike, and seven other people were injured.

One man died after lightning struck multiple people Sunday on the Venice boardwalk, the Los Angeles County Coroner's office told The Hollywood Reporter.

The lightning strike occurred at 2:21 p.m. at the 3500 block of Ocean Front Walk. This location is near a heavily trafficked area of the Venice boardwalk that regularly sees tourist crowds on weekends.

Eight people who were struck by lightning were taken to the hospital, said fire department spokesperson Katherine Main.

Larry Dietz, watch commander at the coroner's office, confirmed that a 20-year-old man died after being transported from Venice to Marina Del Rey Hospital, although Deitz could not confirm the man's identity or cause of death. USA Today reports that the man was struck by lightning during today's Venice thunderstorm.

NBC has identified the man who died as Nick Fagnano, a Los Angeles resident who was to attend USC in the fall as a junior. 

Another adult was taken to the hospital in critical condition, according to Main. The other six individuals were in fair condition, including one 15-year-old. 

One swimmer was pulled from the ocean and given CPR by lifeguards after the strike, according to the Associated Press. It is not known if this swimmer was the man who died. 

Stuart Archer was struck by lightning as he played volleyball on the beach. "There was a big flash of light and a boom, and it felt like someone punched me in the back of my head," Archer said. "It went down my whole side of my right body, and my calves sort of locked up, and I fell over." He was examined by paramedics but was able to continue playing volleyball. 

"This tragedy reminds us that we can take nothing for granted or underestimate the power of nature," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.

Earlier, off the coast, lightning struck a 57-year-old man on a golf course on Santa Catalina Island, but he was taken to a hospital in stable condition, said Steve Denning, a law enforcement technician with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He did not have other details.

The lightning strikes occurred as a fierce but brief thunderstorm hit the island, dumping more than three-quarters of an inch of rain in about two hours, causing minor flooding and setting two small fires in the brushy backcountry that were quickly doused.

Hundreds of lightning strikes were reported all around Southern California as a moisture-laden monsoonal flow spread up from the south and swept the region all the way out to the ocean.

"This is pretty rare" because usually the flow affects just the deserts and sometimes the mountains, said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

The storms began to dissipate as they moved northwest, leaving just a chance of storms through Monday, mainly in the deserts and mountains, Seto said.

According to the National Weather Service, thunderstorms hit West L.A. at 2:15 p.m., with the most impacted areas being LAX, Marina Del Rey and Culver City. The National Weather Service also reported that Sunday's incident was the 16th lightning death this year but the first of 2014 in California. From 2004 to 2013, seven people in California died due to lightning strikes, according to the NWS.