One dead, eighteen injured in Florida lightning strike

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

One person is dead and 18 others injured after lightning struck a church group's Fourth of July celebration in Lakeland, Florida, United States yesterday. The group were outside playing soccer and volleyball when either a single bolt or a series of them hit.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said, "It's very sad to see folks just celebrating the Fourth, in a way that you would hope people would celebrate the Fourth, with friends and family, and a lightning strike, an act of God occurred, and one person died". 19 people were transported to hospitals; one was later pronounced dead.

Despite some clouds in the area, the lightning reportedly caught many off guard. Judd noted, "This is Florida. There's build up every afternoon."

No buildings or structures sustained damage, so it is unclear exactly where the bolt struck. The church members were described as "exceptionally composed considering the tragedy."

On average, there are 1.5 million lightning strikes per year in the state, causing more fatalities than hurricanes, tornadoes, and other meteorological hazards.