The West

Lightning strikes 14 beachgoers
Lifeguards prepare to move a victim of a lightning strike in Venice, California July 27, 2014. The strike has claimed the life of one, injuring at least eight others, one severely, according to local media. Picture: Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn

A 20-year-old man has died after lightning struck 14 people at a popular Los Angeles beach and a golf course.

The LA County coroner said the man was taken from Venice Beach and pronounced dead at a hospital.

Nine people were taken to hospitals, including one who remains in a critical condition, after 13 people were struck at Venice Beach and a 14th person was struck on a golf course.

The strikes came during rare summer thunderstorms that swept through southern California.

Victim Stuart Acher said he was struck while playing volleyball on the beach.

“All of a sudden there was a big flash of light and a boom, and it felt like someone punched me in the back of my head,” he told KABC-TV.

“It went down my whole side of my right body, and my calves sort of locked up, and I fell over.

"And I looked up and everybody else was, you know, falling over.”

Lifeguards assist a person who was in the water and apparently struck by lightening Sunday July 27, 2014 in Los Angeles. Authorities said lightning struck 14 people, leaving two critically injured, as rare summer thunderstorms swept through Southern California on Sunday. Picture: AP Photo/Steve Christianson

Fire officials say most of those taken to hospitals were mainly shaken up and are expected to recover.

The LA County Sheriff’s Department said a 57-year-old man struck on a golf course on Catalina Island was in a stable condition.

The LA Fire Department told AFP seven of those taken to hospital were adults while the eighth was a 15-year-old.

Witnesses speaking to the Los Angeles Times described scenes of panic as the sky darkened and lightning erupted shortly thereafter, accompanied by thunder and rain.

“You could hear everybody screaming,” Angelica Roquemore told the newspaper.

Roger Davis was quoted by the publication as saying that his house shook and that he heard explosions.

When he ran outside, his neighbour - a doctor - was administering CPR to a victim.

Pedestrians and beachgoers stand on the shore near Venice Beach as lifeguards, right, bring in a swimmer rescued from the water. Picture: AP Photo/Steve Christianson

Beachgoer Steve Christensen said his friend tried to help when lifeguards began searching for a missing swimmer.

“He went out to the water to find him and walked right into him,” Christensen said. “He was face down on the bottom.”

Christensen said his friend pulled the man from the water, and lifeguards began trying to resuscitate him before taking him away on a truck.

The West Australian

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