GEORGETOWN, S.C. (AP) — About a dozen people were taken to a hospital — and most were in fair condition — after lightning struck at a popular gathering spot along a South Carolina river on Independence Day, killing one person, authorities said.
Ryan Gamble, 44, of Andrews, South Carolina, died after the lightning strike, Georgetown County Deputy Coroner Chase Ridgeway told news outlets.
Eight patients were admitted in fair condition and three others have been released, Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Dawn Bryant said Friday.
“We were just sitting in the river waiting for the storm to blow over,” survivor Joseph Dalzell told the station. “The lightning hit the tree and ran through all of us.”
As the group was in the water, the fast-moving storm was on top of them.
The lightning was “like a shock through your body. Indescribable,” said Billie Camlin of Georgetown.
The people who were struck were all family and friends, Camlin said.
The National Weather Service reported the strike around 2:10 p.m. Thursday.
Photos from WPDE showed splintered tree branches, charred black in some spots, on the ground.
The area is known for its beach and sandbar, authorities said. The spot is remote and pouring rain and unpaved back roads made it difficult to reach.
Edward Williams told the station that he was the one who called 911.
“I was chilling there in the house and the next thing I knew there was someone banging there on the door,” Williams recalled. “And I was just thinking like, I’m sure everyone is out of the river by now. It was a little kid in a panic that said a bunch of people got struck by lightning and he wanted me to call 911.”