CLEARWATER -- A 44-year-old Tampa man suffered injuries from an indirect lightning strike Thursday morning at Sand Key Park in Clearwater.
Bay News 9 Chief Meteorologist Mike Clay said lightning strike indicators show a bolt striking in that area at 11:22 a.m.
Samuel Sepulveda was taken to Largo Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.
According to Jorge Perdomo, a lifeguard at the scene, the man was lying on the beach when lightning struck near him.
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"The lightning struck right beside him and the electricity just jumped on him," said Perdomo.
Perdomo said Sepulveda was on the beach about 25 yards south of the lifeguard stand when the bolt struck nearby. He said Sepulveda was conscious during the entire incident, but was very pale.
While Perdomo said the skies seemed clear at the time, Clay said the area was under the anvil of a strong thunderstorm a few miles to the east.
"There was probably light rain falling at the time," Clay said. "There were about 45 lightning strikes in central Pinellas in the middle of the storm, but about five or six out toward the beaches under the anvil."
Perdomo said the man's upper right arm and torso was burned.
"They started screaming," Perdomo said. "I felt a little bit of electricity ... So I went and ran, called my colleagues, they called 911, I grabbed him and put him on my cart, and I took him to the back, to dry land."
"I felt like energy volting through me," said resident Amy Randle. "It wasn't like a shock but like energy ... It was pretty wicked."
Another lightning strike in the park nearby also started a small brush fire at the same time. A small clump of palm trees and a grassy area were scorched in the fire.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire in a matter of minutes. Clay said that strike was also picked up by Klystron 9's lightning detector.
Beachgoers and others participating in outdoor activities need to keep a wary eye on the sky at all times, because lightning can stretch out several miles from the actual storm clouds.
Clay advises if you hear thunder, go inside.
"Lightning can strike about 12 miles from the parent thunderstorm. If you think the storm has cleared, wait 30 minutes after you hear the last thunder before resuming your outdoor activities," he said.
Clearwater Police spokesman Rob Shaw said it seemed like it was fine outside before the lightning strike, but that does't mean it's safe.
"People were on the beach, people were swimming, doing what they do every day in Florida," said Shaw. "But anytime you hear any thunder or see threatening conditions you need to get out."