On vacation in Tybee Island, the Alabama teenager was swimming in the ocean when she was struck, authorities said

By Rachel DeSantis
June 14, 2021 12:56 PM
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Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island
| Credit: CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty

A 15-year-old girl vacationing in Georgia was struck and killed by lightning while swimming in the ocean, authorities said.

The girl was swimming off the waters of Tybee Island on Saturday around 2:30 p.m. when she was struck in the ocean near 17th Street, the Tybee Island Police Department said in a press release.

Lifeguards on the scene and fire personnel immediately began CPR, though the girl, who was visiting from Alabama, was pronounced dead at a local hospital, according to police.

"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 release said.

Experts have long advised avoiding swimming during lightning storms, as the water acts as an electricity conductor, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

But according to witnesses, Saturday's storm came on suddenly, and offered little time to leave the water.

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"There was zero warning. My husband and I were there," one woman wrote on a Facebook post in a local Tybee Island group. "It had to have been the first strike in the area because as soon as it happened people were running to take shelter."

"Me and my best friend were there too," another woman wrote. "There was absolutely no warning. The sky wasn't terribly dark, looked more like a blow over shower. I was on the pier at and sent a text at 2:34 saying lightning just struck out of nowhere."

A third woman wrote that she and her daughter were just several feet away from the teenager when she was struck.

"It happened so quickly. We were heartbroken to hear she had passed," the woman wrote. "Prayers for her family."

The girl's death is just the second lightning fatality in the United States this year, following the death of 70-year-old Michael Ward on a New Jersey golf course on Wednesday, according to the National Lightning Safety Council.

If you are at the beach and hear thunder or see lightning, leave the water immediately, get off the beach and take shelter in a building or in your car, NOAA advises.