South Carolina

Outer Banks swimmer hit by lightning while out with friends, cops say

An Outer Banks beachgoer enjoying the day with friends was hit by lightning on Friday when he went for a swim in the ocean, police said.

Lightning hit the 23-year-old man just before 3 p.m. as he swam in the Atlantic near the 3800 block of North Virginia Dare Trail in Kitty Hawk, according to a Facebook post by the Kitty Hawk Police Department.

“Kitty Hawk Ocean Rescue were first on scene and initiated medical assistance,” according to the post. “Kitty Hawk Fire Department, Dare County EMS and Kitty Hawk Police Department provided additional support.”

The victim was taken to Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head, Kitty Hawk Police Chief Joel Johnson said in the post.

Police did not say in the post how seriously they believe the man was hurt and provided no update on his condition as of Saturday afternoon.

“Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers, during this difficult time of uncertainty,” Johnson said in the post.

A man who identified himself as the victim’s father posted his thanks to emergency responders in a reply to the chief’s message.

“We ask you all to continue to please (pray) for our son,” Jim Summerill of Washington, D.C., posted at about 5 p.m. Friday. “Still unconscious and being transported to level one trauma center. We love and (praying) for our beloved son.“

Summerill posted no updates on his son’s condition as of Saturday afternoon, and did not immediately reply to a Facebook message from The Charlotte Observer.

According to the National Weather Service website,, only about 10 percent of U.S. lightning strike victims die, “leaving 90% with various degrees of disability.”

The U.S. averaged 27 annual lightning deaths from 2009 through 2018, the latest NWS statistics show.

The odds of being struck and hurt or killed by lightning in a given year are 1 in about 1.2 million, according to the NWS. The odds over an 80-year lifespan are 1 in 15,300, NWS officials say on the site.

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