Lightning strike during July Fourth cookout kills 1, sends 2 to hospital

Lightning strike during July Fourth cookout kills 1, sends 2 to hospital
A bolt of lightning struck this tree, splitting it at the top, at approximately 2 p.m. One man was killed and two people were hospitalized. (Source: Live 5)

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCSC) - A lightning strike along the Black River in Georgetown County killed one man and sent two others to the hospital Thursday afternoon.

Ryan Gamble, 44, died from his injuries, according to Georgetown County Coroner Chase Ridgeway.

Two other victims transported to an area hospital after the strike are being held for observation, Georgetown County Battalion Chief David Geney said.

The top of a tree struck by lighting in Georgetown County shows signs of splintering at the top. One man was killed and two others hospitalized.
The top of a tree struck by lighting in Georgetown County shows signs of splintering at the top. One man was killed and two others hospitalized. (Source: Live 5)

A homeowner who lives nearby said a group of people who had been boating on the Black River stopped near Lawshe Plantation and went on the shore where they were grilling pork chops. That’s when lightning struck a nearby tree, splintering it at the top, and injuring as many as a dozen people, authorities said.

Edward Williams said one of the boaters came to his door asking him to call 911.

“Luckily the phone worked and I called to get help and then I just took off to go meet the ambulance,” Williams said.

An initial report from the National Weather Service said as many as four people were unresponsive after the bolt of lightning. Getting to the remote area became a challenge for first responders because of the pouring rain and a route that included unpaved back roads, Geney said.

Georgetown County Emergency Manager Sam Hodge described the area where the fatal strike happened as a well-known sand bar and beach area.

The incident happened at a river near Lawshe Plantation, according to the National Weather Service.
The incident happened at a river near Lawshe Plantation, according to the National Weather Service. (Source: Google Earth)

There has been no word on the condition of the two people hospitalized, but officials earlier said they were being held for observation.

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