A rescuer killed by lightning strikes in New Jersey has been identified as teenager Keith Pinto.
The 19-year-old from Toms River was named by police as one of four rescuers who were beaten up on the Jersey Shore on Monday afternoon.
Mr Pinto was among a total of eight people who were struck by lightning in the Berkeley Township area, with the remaining seven being taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The lightning occurred just after 4:30 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. UK time) on the beach at 21st Avenue, near the entrance gates to Island Beach State Park, south of Seaside Park.
Flowers were left at the scene along with a note saying, “We were at the beach today and we are grateful for what you have done for us keeping us safe on the beach. We are so sorry. for your loss. “
Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen Amato said, “This youngster was there every day to protect the lives of others. Our lifeguard teams, like so many others along the shore, develop special bonds with the community throughout the summer, making this loss even greater. “
This was the second death of a rescuer in New Jersey‘s Jersey Shore last week.
On August 20, 16-year-old Norman Inferrera III died the day after an accident in Cape May, at the southern tip of New Jersey.
He was rowing on a lifeboat when he was struck by a wave and overturned, causing him to unconscious, authorities said.
Tom Gill, spokesperson for the US Lifesaving Association, said the deaths in the line of duty are extremely unusual for rescuers and the two at Jersey Shore were only the second and third he can remember in the over the past 30 to 40 years.
“It just doesn’t happen,” he said. “For two deaths in such a short period of time in the same general area, it is a tragedy beyond measure.”
Berkeley beaches are close to swimming until Thursday, and crisis advice has been made available to lifeguards and beach staff.
People will be allowed to sit on the beach and sunbathe, and police are investigating the incident.