Lifeguard Killed, Seven Others Injured by Lightning Strike on Berkeley Township Beach

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor

BERKELEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. — On Monday afternoon, a lightning strike killed 19-year-old lifeguard Keith Pinto and left seven other people injured at the 21st Avenue Beach in South Seaside Park.

Berkeley Township’s police department received a report of a lightning strike at the 21st Avenue Beach at approximately 4:35 p.m. on Monday. First responders immediately began offering medical assistance and “advanced life support,” according to a press release from the police department.

Pinto, a Toms River native, died at the scene as a result of his injuries. The seven other people who suffered injuries as a result were all taken to surrounding hospitals to be treated for their injuries. Police are still investigating the incident.

“This is a tragic and heartbreaking day for our town and the entire Jersey Shore,” Berkeley Township mayor Carmen Amato said in a statement issued in response to the incident. “This young person was out there every day protecting the lives of others. Our lifeguard teams, like so many along the shore, develop special connections with our community throughout the summer, which makes this loss even greater.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also responded to Pinto’s death on social media on Monday afternoon.

“Our hearts are with the family and friends of the young lifeguard killed by today’s horrific lightning strike on the beach in Berkeley Township,” Gov. Murphy said on Twitter. “We pray for a full recovery for those injured. I’ve spoken to Mayor Carmen Amato and offered the full support and assistance of our administration during this difficult time.”

Pinto is the second South Jersey lifeguard to pass away in the line of duty over the last two weeks. Sixteen-year-old Norman Inferrera III died after an accident in which his patrol boat was broadsided by rough surf. The city of Cape May will rename the Reading Avenue Beach in the young lifeguard’s memory in response to his death.

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