A man has life-threatening injuries after a direct lightning strike at a Tampa Bay area beach.
The bolt struck just after 12:30 p.m. Sunday behind Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill on Clearwater Beach in Pinellas County, Spectrum Bay News 9 reports.
The man was hit directly and went into cardiac arrest, according to city officials. He was then transported to Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, where he is in critical condition.
Seven other people who were near the man were also injured by the lightning strike.
Several witnesses carried the injured into the restaurant until medical treatment arrived.
Three of the survivors were transported to Morton Plant Hospital for care, and another went to Tampa General Hospital to be treated for burns.
The remaining three people refused treatment.
The lifeguard towers on the beach had been cleared minutes before the strike occurred due to bad weather passing through the area.
Meaghan Cowen, an elementary school teacher from New Hampshire, was at the restaurant at the time of the strike, according to a post on social media.
“...we heard an incredibly loud strike of lightning next to the building. It sounded like a cannon blast,” Cowen said on Facebook. “Gratefully we sprinted to the car safely through the downpour. While driving away, multiple ambulances were heading towards the beach area. I’m grateful that we’re safe and hoping that everyone will recover from their injuries. It was surreal!”