2 killed by lightning strike while jet skiing in Puerto Rico

SALINAS, Puerto Rico — Two people were killed by a lightning strike while jet skiing in Puerto Rico, according to the National Weather Service.

The incident occurred during a thunderstorm around 5:30 p.m. Sunday in Cayo Matias near Salinas. Further details about the two victims have not been released.  A third person was injured.

The deaths bring the lightning-related death toll in the U.S. and its territories to 17 in 2022 so far, according to John Jensenius with the National Lightning Safety Council. But it’s the first lightning-related death in Puerto Rico since 2017 and only the fifth since 2006, Jensenius said.

However, it’s the 20th and 21st lightning deaths related to boating since 2006, of which eight of those involved jet skis.

Jensenius says many lightning fatalities occur from people being outside for extended periods as storms approach or pass nearby and people wait “far too long” to get to a safe place that leaves them in a dangerous and potentially deadly situation.

“If you are outside, you are vulnerable to a possible lightning strike,” Jensenius told FOX Weather.

He points to their successful safety message: “When thunder roars, go indoors!”

“That simple message can save many lives,” he said.  “Chances are that if you are hearing any thunder, even a distant rumble, you’re within striking distance of the storm. Many people don’t understand that lightning can strike more than 10 miles from the rain area in a thunderstorm and that even a distant rumble of thunder should serve as an immediate warning to get inside.”

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