An eight-year-old boy was struck by lightning in a horrifying beach incident as he enjoyed a family holiday.
The lad waded out into the water at Barrack Point in Warilla, just south of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia, as people across the country celebrated Australia Day in soaring temperatures.
Witnesses say there had been signs of a storm brewing out to sea but it came as a complete surprise when bolt of lightning suddenly lanced down and struck the boy.
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Simon Young, who was at the beach when the incident occurred, told 9News: ”It was just like a shock out of nowhere and at the time I looked out to the inlet and everyone was unaware of what had occurred."
He said the lightning came from nowhere with an “almighty crack”.
"A young child just fell to the ground in the water and his family and siblings ran to his aid to grab him as fast as possible."
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Lifeguard Byron Vinkovic Shellharbour Surf Life Savers said he was "really proud" of how quickly his team had reacted.
They gave the boy first aid before before an ambulance arrived to rush him to Sydney's Westmead Hospital, where he remains in a critical but stable condition.
"We had been monitoring a storm cell that was moving over Wollongong but still hadn't reached us yet," Byron said.
”All six lifeguards did an absolutely amazing job. It was a rapid response from lifeguards and emergency services.
"I could not praise them enough."
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Intensive care paramedic Terry Morrow said the lifeguards’ quick response had almost certainly saved his life.
“When paramedics arrived, they took over and were able to resuscitate the boy,’” he said.
“The actions of those lifesavers played a crucial role in the boy's resuscitation.
“The child also had burns across his chest which were treated on scene by paramedics and the critical care medical team who arrived via the Toll Ambulance Rescue Helicopter."
He added: “While this is a rare and unfortunate incident, it is a reminder that when there are electrical storms in the area you should avoid being in bodies of water and that indoors is the safest place to be."
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