Lifeguards warned Clearwater beachgoers to get off the beach before lightning strikes

Pinellas County

CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – Doctors continue to treat a man struck by lightning on Clearwater Beach Sunday.

Elizabeth Hubbard is visiting from West Virginia. She and the family immediately packed up when the clouds rolled in.

“We know when a storm starts coming to get out,” Hubbard said. “And with the grandbabies with us, definitely for safety.”

Lightning is no different where she’s from.

“A lot of it is like the street lightning and some of it is the big flashes in the sky,” she said.

Emergency crews rushed to Clearwater Beach Sunday afternoon after eight people were injured from lightning behind Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill, near the volleyball courts.

One man was directly hit.

“His whole shirt was burnt,” said one witness.

Clearwater Beach lifeguard Donovan Burns said they quickly closed off the water when they saw storms coming.

“You’ll hear whistles and you’ll see us flagging you out the water. We always advise you once we close the water, to go ahead and leave the beach,” Burns said.

But not everyone heeds the warning to get out.

“We can close the water, we can’t get you off the beach. That’s your choice. But we always advise that you go take safe haven,” he said. “A lot of people, you’ll be surprised, a lot of people stick around when the storms are approaching and even during the storms.”

Due to HIPPA laws, no information on the victims have been released.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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