August 31, 2021
BERKELEY TOWNSHIP – SOUTH SEASIDE PARK, NJ (OCEAN)—Berkley Township Police have released the name of the lifeguard killed in a lighting strike yesterday as 19 year old Keith Pinto of Toms River, NJ. According to Pinto’s Facebook page he attended Ocean County Community College and was a graduate of Toms River High School North.
Yesterday August 30, 2021 at approximately 4:35 p.m. the Berkeley Township Police Department responded to the 21st Avenue Beach in the South Seaside Park section for a report of a lighting strike involving multiple people on the beach. Upon arrival, first aid and advanced life support was immediately rendered to the victims.
It was determined that a total of 8 victims, four of which were lifeguards, were reported to have been either struck or were injured from the residual lighting strike. One of the victims, a Berkeley Township lifeguard, Keith Pinto 19 of Toms River, succumbed to his injuries. The remaining victims were triaged and treated for their injuries at surrounding hospitals. The investigation into this tragic incident is ongoing.
Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen Amato issued the following statement regarding the fatal lightning strike in South Seaside Park today.
“This is a tragic and heartbreaking day for our town and the entire Jersey Shore.”
“This young person was out there every day protecting the lives of others. Our lifeguard teams, like so many along the shore, develop special connections with our community throughout the summer, which makes this loss even greater.”
“On behalf of myself and our entire community, I offer our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of this young man.”
Berkley Township’s ocean beaches will be closed for swimming but open for sunbathers Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday as beach staff and lifeguards will be off. Crisis Counselors will be available for beach staff employees.
Governor Phil Murphy released a statement this evening: “Our hearts are with the family and friends of the young lifeguard killed by today’s horrific lightning strike on the beach in Berkeley Township, and we pray for a full recovery for those injured. I’ve spoken to Mayor Carmen Amato and offered the full support and assistance of our administration during this difficult time.”
Words cannot describe how so many of us are feeling right now. We lost a special guy tonight, one who was so close and meant so much to so many people. Keith passed away after being struck by lightning while he was working his lifeguarding shift. A complete tragedy that nobody would have ever expected to happen. It would be impossible to get it all into words how much our friend meant to us but we all know how amazing he was. Keith has left behind an overwhelming amount of amazing memories that will live in our hearts forever. All donations will go directly to Keith’s family for the proper goodbye that he deserves. Our hearts are broken by what happened and all our love and support goes out to the Pinto family and all others affected by this tragedy. We’re gonna miss you so much brother❤️#LLK
This is the second fatal lifeguard accident at the Jersey Shore this year only 10 days ago on August 20, 2021 a 16 year old lifeguard in Cape May died from injuries from a lifeboat accident.