MONMOUTH COUNTY, N.J. (PIX11)—What was a beautiful day at the Jersey Shore Saturday turned into a deadly night after a lightning bolt struck and killed a New York woman, who was walking on top of a sea wall at Monmouth County Beach in Sea Bright, near Sunset Lane.
"There were a lot of lovely families here having a great day. We came back to start a barbecue, and these dark clouds came swiftly," recounted Penny Johnson, a Monmouth Beach resident, who was with her family on the same stretch of beach.
The Johnsons have seen their fair share of fast-moving storms and knew to take cover immediately. She says she watched other beach-goers try to do the same.
Police say, at 7:40 p.m., Indira Tursunova, 48, of Rockland County, was walking with her husband and son along the sea wall that stands 12 feet above ground -- arguably the highest point in the area -- when, according to police, a lightning bolt surged from the sky straight down and struck her.
Johnson rushed to the scene, fearful something had happened to a neighbor. "They [emergency responders] were taking her down the staircase, and I saw coloring in her face. I saw soot on her head and dark coloring of her eyes." Johnson recognized the woman as part of a family, who sat near them on the beach.
Her husband, Bill, even talked to the woman, who asked about their kayak. "She had broken English, and I barely understood her, but [she] was very nice. I gave her info on the kayak and just enjoyed the day," Bill Johnson said.
Police rushed Tursunova to the hospital; she died nearly 12 hours later. "It was heart-wrenching to see her," added Penny Johnson.
The Johnsons say they hope Tursunova's family and friends will find solace in the fact that her last day was a beautiful one. "They were laughing and having a great time," said Mrs. Johnson fighting back tears, adding, "it is just unfortunate it ended the way it did."
A Monmouth County police officer actually saw the deadly lightning bolt while on patrol. He told PIX11 he was the first on the scene -- even before the call came into 911. He hoped his immediate response would help save her, but she succumbed to her injuries early Sunday morning.
Edited By Michelle Robinson