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5 Beachgoers Injured When Lightning Strikes Ground In Long Beach

LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The powerful storms that swept through the area late Thursday afternoon gave some beachgoers a serious scare in Long Beach.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Friday, several people were taken to the hospital when lightning struck the ground.

Dramatic footage from a drone hovering above the ocean captured the giant lightning bolt.

"We felt just the impact like in our chest," said Jason Belsky. "It was pretty intense; very scary."

It was 5 p.m. Thursday, and Belsky was using the drone to shoot video of a surf contest when the dark clouds rolled in.

"All of a sudden, it went from blue skies and got real dark," he said. "It looked like a dark mushroom cloud was growing in the distance."

A closer look at Belsky's video showed that people were standing right beneath the lightning bolt on the beach. Among them was Courtney Koehle, 27, who also noticed the sky getting dark and took out her cellphone camera.

"The lifeguards hadn't blown their whistles yet. We started to pack up, and I actually took a picture of the sky, and as I was taking a picture of the sky, all of a sudden, it felt kind like a hammer; an axe, like, hit our heads, and my husband and I just blacked out," Koehle said.

Koehle was unconscious for seconds. She was among five people who were treated by the Long Beach Fire Department for lightning strike injuries.

Lifeguards said it was the fastest moving storm in years, deceiving even seasoned veterans.

"When people see a cloud like that come in and they see lightning way down there, for yourself, get off the beach, all right?" said Chief Long Beach Lifeguard Paul Gillespie. "Because again, it's a very dangerous situation."

No one was seriously injured by the lightning strike. But Belsky has a new appreciation for the power of Mother Nature.

And Koehle knows the odds of being hit by lightning, and agrees with emergency staff who told her she is lucky to be alive.

The Long Beach Fire Department also dealt with other emergencies, including a car fire, a stove fire, a gas leak and a water rescue during the brief storm Thursday night.

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