Survivor of lightning that killed NJ lifeguard tells the story
After a 16-year-old first-year lifeguard in Cape May died less than two weeks ago when his boat capsized, losing another lifeguard was unimaginable. Yet it happened.
19-year-old Keith Pinto was the lifeguard at the beach in Berkeley Township who was killed Monday afternoon when he and seven others were struck by lightning. He died at the scene. The beach was closed to swimming for the next few days to give the other lifeguards and beach staff time to cope. The lifeguard stand was turned on its side as a memorial and quickly become the spot where flowers were being left. The area is in mourning.
We talked about the tragic case on Tuesday’s show, directed people where to find the GoFundMe page set up for the family, and people called in with their condolences and stories of their own close calls with lightning.
The final caller of the hour was Colleen. She is one of the seven injured by the same lightning strike that killed Keith Pinto. She was on the beach with her sister, cousin and nephew when the skies to the west behind them turned dark. They were already in the process of packing up to get out of harm’s way when it happened.
She tells her story in this audio clip.
An eerie part of this account is how they all knew exactly what part of their bodies the lightning entered and how it coursed a path through them. A fifth member of their party, Colleen’s brother-in-law, was spared apparently because he was sitting in a manner where his feet were not making contact with the sand.
Moments after the family was struck and checked on each other they saw people running towards the lifeguard who wouldn’t survive. Like most of New Jersey, Colleen says her heart goes out to Keith Pinto’s family.
Colleen was sent to a local hospital along with her sister, cousin and nephew who probably fared the worst through the ordeal. All were released the same night and are doing alright.
She says she’s lucky to be alive and is grateful to the first responders and medical staff. Though I’m sure she and her family will feel forever linked to the sadness of the tragedy suffered by the Pintos.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.