A 70-year-old New Jersey man is reportedly the first person to be killed by lightning struck by a bolt while playing golf in the United States this year.
Michael Ward was found unconscious around 3:45 p.m. and was not breathing. Wednesday near the seventh hole at the Burlington County Country Club in Westampton, NJ.com reported.
First responders said, according to a statement from Police Chief Stephen Ent, “it was evident from the scene that the man was struck by lightning”.
“There were isolated pop-up thunderstorms in the area at the time of the lightning strike,” he said, adding that the Burlington County Medical Examiner’s office is being assisted with the investigation.
Ward was pronounced dead at the scene.
His death marked the country’s first fatal lightning strike in 2021, said John Jenenius, a lightning safety specialist with the National Lightning Safety Council.
“This is the first death in New Jersey since September 7, 2012 and the 14th (in New Jersey) since 2006,” he told NJ.com in an email. “Since 2006 there have been 11 golf deaths (lightning) deaths in the United States.”
The US had an average of five fatal lightning strikes as of June 9, Jenenius said, citing data from the past 10 years.
“This year a record was set for the youngest first death of the year,” he said. “Previously, the record was on May 23, which was set 10 years ago in 2011.”