GEORGETOWN, S.C. (AP) – Authorities say lightning struck at a popular river gathering spot in South Carolina on Independence Day, killing a man and injuring as many as a dozen other people.
Resident Edward Williams tells WCSC-TV that a group of people had been boating on the Black River near Lawshe Plantation and had come ashore to grill pork chops when lightning struck a nearby tree. Shortly afterward, someone came banging on his door.
“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,” he told WPDE-TV.
The spot is remote, and pouring rain and unpaved back roads made it difficult to reach. WPDE reported that three people were taken to a hospital, and one died shortly thereafter. He was identified as Ryan Gamble, 44, of Andrews, the TV station said, quoting Georgetown County Deputy Coroner Chase Ridgeway. The other two had minor injuries and were being held for observation, the station said.
“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.”
Asked what it felt like, survivor Billie Camlin replied, “Like a shock through your body. Indescribable.”
Camlin said everyone who was affected belonged to one group of family and friends, ranging in age from 9 to 46.
Georgetown County Emergency Manager Sam Hodge says the lightning struck a spot along the river known for its bar and beach.