Witnesses: Lightning hit Los Angeles beach without warning (w/video)

  • Lifeguards assist a person who was in the water and struck by lightening Sunday July 27, 2014 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Steve Christensen)

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles' popular Venice Beach teemed with people enjoying a weekend outing on the boardwalk and sand when lifeguards and other witnesses say lightning from a rare summer thunderstorm hit without warning, injuring or rattling more than a dozen people and leaving a 21-year-old man dead.

The witnesses said the strike hit with a tremendous boom about 2:30 p.m. Sunday, rattling buildings and showering a lifeguard headquarters with sparks.

"The first knowledge they had was when the lightning hit," Capt. Danny Douglas of the Venice lifeguard station said Monday.

The 21-year-old was rushed unresponsive to a hospital after the strike and later died. Coroner's Assistant Chief Ed Winter identified him as Nick Fagnano of Los Angeles. Some witnesses said Fagnano had been in the water when the lightning hit, but authorities couldn't confirm that.

The lightning came as some 30,000 people were enjoying a day at the city's funky bohemian beach noted for its jugglers, skaters, medical marijuana dealers and boardwalk preachers and hucksters.

Swimmers cooling off on a muggy day, volleyball players on the sand and people strolling the famous boardwalk were jolted.

Twelve other people, including a 15-year-old boy, were examined after they felt the effects of the lightning, ranging from anxiety to a man who needed CPR. However, not all were necessarily actually struck by lightning, said Katherine Main, a city fire spokeswoman.

Nine were taken to hospitals, where one was listed in critical condition. Most of the others were mainly shaken up and expected to recover, fire officials said.

Lightning also struck a 57-year-old man on a golf course on Santa Catalina Island, the picturesque Channel Island 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles that has been celebrated in story and song. He was listed in stable condition and further information on him was not available Monday.

Stuart Acher said he was shocked while playing volleyball on the beach.

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