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Rare Lightning Strikes Kill 1, Injure 8 Others in SoCal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A swimmer said he was fortunate to be alive after losing consciousness in the water when lightning struck Venice Beach. Gadi Schwartz reports from Westwood for the NBC4 News at 11 on Sunday, July 27, 2014. (Published Monday, Jul 28, 2014)

    A 20-year-old man who died in the hospital after being struck by lightning at Venice Beach on Sunday has been identified, officials said. Seven other beachgoers were also hospitalized, including one with critical injuries.

    Nick Fagnano, of Los Angeles, died at Marina Del Rey Hospital, according to information provided from the hospital to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.

    The victims were in or near the water next to the pier when the bolts touched down about 2:20 p.m., the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

    Man Dies After Being Struck by Lightning on SoCal Beach

    [LA] Man Dies After Being Struck by Lightning on SoCal Beach
    A 20-year-old man has died in the hospital after being struck by lightning at Venice Beach, officials said. Kate Larsen reports from Venice on the NBC4 News at 6 on Sunday, July, 27, 2014. (Published Sunday, Jul 27, 2014)

    "All of a sudden it was the loudest thunder I've ever heard. It was like a scene out of 'Jaws.' All the mothers were going into grab their kids to drag them out of the water," said witness Joe Doro.

    Thirteen people who were all in or near the water when the bolts touched down were checked out by firefighters at the scene. Eight of them were taken to hospitals, including seven adults and a 15-year-old, the LAFD said.

    A swimmer who was released from the hospital Sunday night said he doesn't remember the lightning strike, but recalls being rescued by friends from the water after suddenly losing consciousness.

    "The next thing you know I was struggling to get my head back above the water," said the swimmer, who identified himself only as Paul. "Thank God they were brave enough to just jump in and not hesitate."

    "I understand one person didn't make it. I just want to say that my thoughts go out to that person's family," Paul added.

    A video taken at the scene shows the frantic moments when rescuers pulled another person who appeared to be unconscious out of the water.

    A beachgoer who was about 50 yards away from the pier said he felt a jolt of electricity from his feet to the top of his head when the lightning struck.

    "We all got up off the ground, and we were just amazed by what had happened," Eric Amparan said. "We saw some commotion by the waterline, and another person was struck by the lightning, and he was unconscious lying on the beach. The lifeguards were already there doing CPR on him."

    Witnesses said the clap of thunder sounded like an explosion.

    "A flash and simultaneously the loudest clap of thunder I’ve ever heard in my life, because it was so close. I thought it was like a bomb, almost," said witness Ned Walker.

    On Santa Catalina Island, a 57-year-old man who was on an Avalon golf course was also struck by lightning. He was hospitalized in stable condition, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said. He was expected to survive.

    In Redondo Beach, a home and car parked in its driveway in the 1600 block of Haynes Lane were damaged by a bolt of lightning. No one there was hurt.

    As of 11 p.m. Sunday, hundreds of Southern California Edison customers in Redondo Beach were without power. The utility said it hopes to have power restored by 6 a.m. Monday.

    The lightning strikes occurred as a thunderstorm hit the island, causing minor flooding and setting two small fires in the brushy backcountry that were quickly doused.

    Monsoon conditions moving in from Arizona were expected to bring small amounts of rain -- up to a quarter-inch -- all throughout Los Angeles County through the evening, according to David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

    “There is that potential for brief heavy amounts,” Sweet said of the rain. “In most places it will be small.”

    In Avalon, about two-thirds of an inch was recorded in about 30 minutes, weather officials said. One man was apparently injured in a lightning strike and minor flooding reported in the area, according to wire reports.

    After a cloudy night, the sun was expected to be out again Monday. Temperatures were expected in the mid to upper 70s inland areas and 80s and 90s inland.

    Weather officials said the rainfall was too localized to make any dent in the state's ongoing drought crisis.

    Kate Larsen and Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.