A pair of men were struck and killed by lightning in Granville Township, Pa., marking the state's first lightning fatalities in over a year.
According to Bradford County coroner Thomas Carman, the men were standing in an open field under a wooden tree stand around 2 p.m. Monday when the tragedy occurred in the northern Pennsylvania town, located 50 miles north of Williamsport and less than 30 miles south of the New York border.
Two other men were with the stricken individuals and were taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. Carman said the two men who died were from southern Pennsylvania.
Carman told PAhomepage.com that the two men killed by the bolt, 43-year-old Jason Gamba of Havertown, and 34-year-old Craig Keleman of Philadelphia, were touching a metal ladder at the time of the strike. The two other men, John Maiale and his son, Joseph Maiale, both from Franklin Square, N.Y., were not in contact with the ladder. According to WETM, the two survivors were hospitalized in stable condition.
Data from the National Lightning Safety Council show that the two fatalities increase the current year's total lightning deaths for the United States to seven. Three of those deaths have occurred in July, which has historically been the most dangerous month of the year for fatal lightning strikes. Over the past 10 years, an average of eight people are killed by lightning each July.
The other July lightning fatality occurred last week, when a 9-year-old girl was struck in Moultrie, Ga. According to the Moultrie Observer, the girl, Nicole Mateo Pedro, was walking on a trail with her mother and sister when a storm moved through. Along with two other individuals, the family members huddled under a wooden shelter when a bolt struck a tree near the bench where Nicole was sitting. The fatality marked the first lightning death in Georgia in nearly two years.
Of the Pennsylvania tragedy, AccuWeather senior meteorologist Brian Wimer said slow-moving storms had drenched the area around the time of the incident.
"There were slow-moving thunderstorms in the area with heavy downpours," he said. "The storms were producing numerous lightning strikes."
John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the NLSC, shared data that shows the United States has averaged 11 lightning deaths through July 6 over the past 10 years. While the United States is behind that pace so far this summer, more and more people may be spending time outdoors after sheltering in their homes for the spring in the coming days, coinciding with the most dangerous lightning fatality month of the year.