"I was worried about everyone, who was okay and who wasn't," one witness said

By Jen Juneau
July 05, 2019 01:20 PM

A South Carolina man has died and as many as 11 others were hurt in a lightning strike on the Fourth of July, according to multiple reports.

Ryan Gamble, 44, was on at the Black River in Georgetown County when a bolt of lightning struck a nearby tree, Accuweather reports.

The Georgetown County Coroner’s Office confirmed Gamble’s death to Accuweather and a report from emergency management stated that 12 people total were injured with four found unresponsive at Lawshee Plantation after the strike occurred around 2:10 p.m.

Investigators told local TV station WPDE that the victims ranged in age from 9 to 46 and that some were being treated at Tidelands Hospital where Gamble, from Andrews, died shortly after arriving in critical condition. The group included family and friends.

Citing a fire official, however, WBTW reported that only two people were injured in addition to Gamble.

(Officials with the coroner’s office did not immediately respond to questions from PEOPLE.)

Ryan Gamble
Lightning strike

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Billie Camlin, a Georgetown resident, told WPDE that the group was in the water of the Black River when the storm “came fast” and “then the lightning hit and it got the tree and then it hit every one of us.”

The group was in a boat in the river when they were hit by the electric current through the water, according to WPDE.

Camlin explained that the lightning felt “like a shock through your body” but otherwise it was an “indescribable” sensation.

Said Joseph Dalzell, another member of the group: “I was worried about everyone, who was okay and who wasn’t … I’m amazed it happened; wasn’t expecting it.”

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According to WPDE, one of the children went to get help after the incident and knocked on the door of Edward Williams, who called 911.

Williams said his ability to assist was “divine intervention” since his phone is internet-dependent and often not working during inclement weather.

“Internet happened to go out and I was just chilling there in the house and here comes someone banging on the door,” he told the station.

A representative from the National Lightning Safety Council told Accuweather that Thursday’s death marked the first fatality caused by lightning in South Carolina in more than four years.