Lightning strike in Georgia kills 'sweet' girl, 9, seriously injures sister

What you need to know about lightning safety

Here’s what the experts say to do during a lightning strike

A 9-year-old Georgia girl was killed and her sister was seriously injured in a lightning strike during a hike with their mother over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, according to officials.

The incident happened Friday afternoon along a trail in Moultrie, located in Colquitt County, in the southern part of the state.

Colquitt County Coroner Verlyn Brock told WSB-TV the mother and two daughters, ages 9 and 15, were on the trail when a storm started coming in, spurring them to head to a wooden shelter on the path to wait for the thunderstorm to pass.

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Lightning then struck a pine tree next to the shelter and the bolt of electricity traveled to the shelter, hitting Nicol Mateo-Pedro as she sat on a bench, according to WSB-TV.

The 9-year-old was transported to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Her 15-year-old sister sustained "serious burns" in the strike and was airlifted to a burn center.

A 9-year-old Georgia girl was killed and her sister was seriously injured in a lightning strike on Friday in south Georgia.
(iStock)

According to a fund set up on behalf of the family, the teen remains hospitalized in critical condition.

"With the tragic loss of sweet Nicol, the family is in need of donations to help with the funeral expense and for the medical expenses with Nicol sister who is currently in the hospital in critical condition," the page reads.

The girls' mother and two others with them were not hurt, Brock said.

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The deadly incident on Friday was the first lightning fatality in Georgia since July 4, 2018, according to John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist at the National Lightning Safety Council (NLSC).

Last month, Jensenius told Fox News the best place to be when a thunderstorm is happening is in a substantial building with four walls, wiring and plumbing. That's because if it's struck by lightning, the electric charge will follow the plumbing and wiring to the ground.

Lightning safety tips from the National Weather Service.
(NOAA)

"That keeps you safe, if you aren't in contact with wiring or plumbing," he said.

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Staying away from windows, doors, and doorknobs to the outside, as well as avoiding taking showers or baths when lightning is around, is also key to avoiding a dangerous situation.

So far in 2020, there have been seven lightning deaths in the U.S. after two additional fatalities on Monday. Based on the past 10 years, the U.S. averages 11 lightning deaths through July 6.

A breakdown of lightning fatalities across the U.S. from 2010 to 2019.
(National Lightnight)

Two men were struck and killed on Monday in Bradford County, Pa., after they were standing in an open field under a tree, WBRE/WYOU reported.

Two others with them were injured in the lightning strike.

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The month of July is typically the deadliest month of the year, averaging eight lightning deaths nationwide, according to Jensenius.

This July so far has seen three fatalities in the first six days.

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