Lightning kills two over Fourth of July weekend

A man in Georgia and another in North Carolina were struck by lightning over the weekend and have since passed away. Now, there have been a total of three lightning deaths across the U.S. this year.

On Saturday, a 39-year-old man was loading tools into a van near a mountaintop in Mountain City, Georgia, when the lightning strike occurred, reports the National Lightning Safety Council. It was the first lightning death in over a year, according to FOX Weather

On Sunday, a 33-year-old was hit by lightning while near the beach at Masonboro Island, North Carolina.

According to FOX News, the man was identified as 33-year-old William Fiend, the husband of One Tree Hill star Bevin Prince. They report he was struck by lightning while boating with friends. 

"The unimaginable has happened," Prince’s friend, actress Odette Annable, wrote on her Instagram in a tribute to Friend. "The life and love that you gave to my best friend made it feel okay that we were thousands of miles apart. As I sit in your beautiful home, looking out onto the ocean, I keep thinking about what a gift you gave to Bevin. What a gift you gave to everyone who knew you to witness the passion that burned in your soul. The passion to help people, to build your business, to find happiness like I’d never seen from you living in North Carolina with Bevin. You were perfect for her in every way. You supported her dreams, you made her feel seen, you adored her with every bit of your soul and I will forever be grateful to witness that kind of love."

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New Hanover County Sheriff’s deputies performed CPR on Friend for 20 minutes after he was struck near Masonboro Island, North Carolina. He was pronounced dead in an ambulance on the way to a hospital, according to WECT-TV.

The first lightning fatality of this year occurred in Pico Rivera, California, when a woman was walking her two dogs along a bike path. All three were struck and killed, reports FOX 11

According to the National Weather Service, in 2021, there were a total of 11 lightning fatalities. In 2020, there were 17. 

A further breakdown can be found below (provided by NWS):

  • 2011: 26 deaths
  • 2012: 29 deaths
  • 2013: 23 deaths
  • 2014: 26 deaths
  • 2015: 28 deaths
  • 2016: 40 deaths
  • 2017: 16 deaths
  • 2018: 21 deaths
  • 2019: 20 deaths
  • 2020: 17 deaths
  • 2021: 11 deaths

The odds of being struck by a bolt in a given year are less than one-in-a-million, and almost 90% of victims survive. Still, lightning kills around 20 people each year in the U.S., and hundreds more are injured.

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"Lightning can strike seven to 10 miles away from the parent thunderstorm," explained Chief Meteorologist Paul Dellegatto.  "So even though you see a thunderstorm in the distance, if you hear thunder technically you’re in danger of being hit."

Experts said the last place you want to be when thunder roars is under a tree or out in the open. The safest place is inside a structure with plumbing, or a vehicle with a metal roof.