Six people were hospitalized after being struck by lightning in the Bronx on Thursday.
The FDNY said a group of people, including children, were injured in an apparent lightning strike at Orchard Beach around 5:30 p.m. The beachgoers were taken to Jacobi Medical Center, and a 13-year-old boy is reportedly in critical condition.
The Parks Department said that before the beachgoers were injured, lifeguards had “cleared all swimmers from the water, and Parks staff made announcements over the public address system instructing patrons to clear the beach.”
Raul Dejesus told NBC New York that the storm “came out of nowhere” and described the scene: “Everybody started running to the bathroom and when we were in the bathroom, we kept hearing these thunders. Boom boom boom. We heard screams and yelling and, oh man, somebody got struck.”
Another beachgoer, Ralph Gonzalez, said to WABC 7, “Lightning struck like 30 feet from me. One lightning came down and next thing you know the cloud came above us and lightning just started falling everywhere all around us.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lightning strikes—which are rare, overall—are most common during the summer and in the afternoon. In recent years, however, there have been studies linking climate change to an increase in lightning strikes. Earlier this year, a study in Geophysical Research Letters showed that in the Arctic, where the “climate is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world… lightning strikes have become 300 percent more common in the last 11 years.”