Man struck and killed by lightning while boating off North Carolina coast

UPDATE: Man identified and confirmed dead after being struck by lightning near Masonboro Island
Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 8:15 AM CDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT/Gray News) – A man was struck and killed by lightning near Masonboro Island, a small island off the North Carolina coast, Sunday afternoon.

Several marine units responded after civilians flagged them down during a routine patrol.

Authorities found William Friend, 33, had been struck by lightning, WECT reports.

Deputies performed CPR on Friend as they were taking him to a marina to meet emergency responders.

EMS moved Friend to the ambulance, where they attempted to resuscitate him for 20 minutes before pronouncing him dead.

They took the man’s body to the hospital to meet with family members.

Boaters and lightning safety experts say Friend’s death is a reminder of the dangers of being on the water or at the beach during a storm.

“There’s really no safe place on a boat,” said Captain Ryan Saporito with Sea Tow Wrightsville Beach who was helping other boats in the area during the storm Sunday.

According to John Jensenius with the National Lightning Safety Council, being near the water without shelter during a thunderstorm can be life-threatening.

“Some people think that there’s some protection just based on a little bit of metal, but really there isn’t when you consider that lightning gets into the metal systems of your boat and you’re very close to those,” Jensenius said.

With pop-up storms and the threat of lightning becoming the norm through the summer months, being near water can increase your risk of danger.

“We recommend getting as far away from water as possible but, to be honest, if you’re in the water or if you’re on the beach you’re very exposed to the lightning threat,” Jensenius said.

According to the National Lightning Safety Council, this was the third lightning-related death in the United States this year.

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