Community mourns 19-year-old Berkeley Township lifeguard killed by bolt of lightning

The Berkeley Township community is mourning the loss of a lifeguard who was struck by a bolt of lightning while on duty Monday afternoon.

News 12 Staff

Aug 31, 2021, 11:40 AM

Updated 957 days ago

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The Berkeley Township community is mourning the loss of a lifeguard who was struck by a bolt of lightning while on duty Monday afternoon.
When the lightning strike occurred Monday around 4:30 p.m., witnesses say that there were sunny skies and only a few clouds to the northwest. They say that there did not appear to be any reason to evacuate the beach for bad weather.
Friends of 19-year-old Keith Pinto returned to the spot where he died to pay their respects and mourn his loss.
“I feel really, like, overwhelmed over here. It’s a lot to handle,” says Gabriella Dellolio, of Toms River.
Dellolio went to school with Pinto at Toms River North where he ran track. Pinto was currently attending Ocean County Community College. He worked as a lifeguard for the past four summers, often alongside his twin brother.
“I just remember him being a very happy-go-lucky kid. Very athletic, he loved his sports a lot,” says Dellolio.
When Pinto was struck by the lightning, he was knocked from the lifeguard stand. The guard sitting next to him survived and only suffered a temporary loss of hearing. Lifeguards performed CPR, but ultimately could not save Pinto.
Pinto’s death has brought about a question concerning the use of metal lifeguard stands like the one Pinto was sitting upon. The mother of another lifeguard tells News 12 New Jersey that her daughter won’t be allowed back to work until the stands are replaced with wooden ones. She is concerned that the metal stands attracted the bolt of lightning.
Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen Amato says in a statement, "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.”
There was no comment regarding the use of aluminum lifeguard stands, only that the guards requested them in years past because they are lightweight.
A vigil was held Tuesday night on the beach to remember Pinto.
No swimming will be allowed at the beach for the next few days while lifeguards take time off to mourn.


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