15-year-old girl killed by lightning while swimming at beach in Georgia

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A 15-year-old Alabama girl died Saturday after she was struck by lightning while swimming off the Georgia coast, according to police.

The Tybee Island Police Department received a 911 call about 2:40 p.m. about a female who had possibly been struck as she swam in the ocean, the department said in a statement on Facebook.

“While speaking with dispatch, the caller stated that lifeguards had already arrived on scene,” the statement said.

By the time the first officer arrived at the scene, the victim had already been removed from the beach and was undergoing CPR from firefighters and lifeguard personnel, police said.

The girl was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

“While meeting with the family, detectives learned that she was 15 years old and had been visiting Tybee Island from Alabama,” the statement said.

“The men and women of the City of Tybee Island are deeply saddened by the loss of this young woman and our hearts remain with her family and friends.”

The heartbreaking post received hundreds of comments, including from some who saw the tragedy unfold.

“I was on my patio when this happened and the lifeguards’ response time was incredible. They were on the scene within 15 seconds of the lightning strike. Prayers to everyone involved,” one witness, Sunny Ray, said.

“My family was on the beach at that time and not very far from this location…my family will always remember this family and their terrible loss,” another witness, Cindy Banister Heiman, wrote.

The girl’s death was the second lightning fatality of the year in the US.

On Wednesday, 70-year-old Michael Ward died after being struck by lightning while golfing in Burlington County, New Jersey.

Data collected by the National Lightning Safety Council shows a total of 17 lightning fatalities in 2020.

The most recent lightning fatality in Georgia prior to Saturday occurred on July 3, 2020, when a 9-year-old girl was struck while walking in Moultrie, WTOC reported.

Georgia ranked eighth in the US with nine fatal lightning strikes between 2010 and 2019, according to the council.

Florida ranks first, with 47 fatalities between 2010 and 2019.

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