Lightning strikes one man at Florida beach, injures 7 others

Vandana Ravikumar

A man was directly struck by lightning on Sunday in Clearwater Beach, Florida, as a thunderstorm rolled through the area. 

The early-afternoon strike left seven other people injured. The other individuals are believed to either have been in the area at the time or hit by the lightning bolt, Clearwater Fire Department Deputy Chief Marvin Pettingill told WTSP News in Tampa Bay. 

Shortly before the strike, the Clearwater Beach lifeguards vacated their towers due to bad weather, WFLA News in Tampa Bay reported. 

The person who was hit by lightning, a man in his 40s, suffered cardiac arrest and is in critical condition, WFLA reported. Five people were taken to hospitals, while three others refused treatment, according to the station. 

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The extent of additional injuries is unknown at this time, officials said.

"Beachgoers should take cover and go to a safe place when lightning and thunder are present," the fire department told WFTS News in Tampa Bay. "As a reminder, Clearwater Fire and Rescue uses the phrase: when you hear the roar, go indoors." 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lightning strike at Clearwater Beach in Florida injures 8 people