Backpacker struck by lightning still critical

A GERMAN backpacker who was struck by lightning at Suffolk Park on Sunday while surfing remains in a critical condition at Tweed Heads Hospital.

The 33-year-old man was in the water surfing about 10:30am when he was struck by lightning during a storm.

Johan Swanepoel

Three people dragged the unconscious man, who was staying in Byron Bay with his girlfriend, onto the beach and began forming CPR on him.

Paramedics were called to the beach just after 10:30am and treated the man, who suffered a cardiac arrest from the lightning strike.

It is understood the man was to celebrate his 34th birthday this weekend.

He was taken to Tweed Heads Hospital in a critical condition.

A Northern NSW Local Health District spokeswoman said the man remained at Tweed Hospital in a critical but stable condition this morning.

Surf Life Saving Far North Coast duty officer Jimmy Keough said while unpatrolled Tallow Beach wasn't closed due to lightning, nearby Byron Bay Main Beach was.

Mr Keough said when lifesavers heard thunder less than 30 seconds after seeing lightning they closed beaches for half an hour or until the lightning passed.

"Lifesavers always keep a close eye on conditions," Mr Keough said.

"Any thunder or lightning close by, it is standard procedure to close beaches until they are safe."



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