‘We love you’ — funeral for NJ lifeguard struck by lightning is Saturday
BERKELEY TOWNSHIP — Visitation services will be held on Friday for 19-year-old Keith Pinto who was fatally struck by lightning while on duty as a lifeguard at White Sands Beach in Berkeley Township on Monday afternoon.
Visitation is at the Timothy E. Ryan Home for Funerals on St. Catherine Boulevard in Toms River from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday. Pinto's funeral is Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church on Hooper Avenue in Toms River followed by burial at the St. Joseph Cemetery.
The beaches in Berkeley Township were reopened on Friday after they were closed most of the week to allow lifeguards a period to grieve Pinto.
His twin brother Kevin thanked Gov. Phil Murphy via his Facebook page for ordering flags to fly at half staff on Friday at state buildings.
“I was devastated to learn of Keith’s passing in a tragic incident earlier this week. He took on the selfless and great responsibility of protecting beachgoers at White Sands Beach," Murphy said in his executive order. "We mourn his loss and we will never forget his service to Berkeley Township and the many families that he kept safe. Our prayers are with Keith’s family, friends, and his fellow lifeguards.”
Pinto's brother also thanked those who have shown support for the family since Monday.
"It’s so amazing to know how many people was effected by this passing of Keith. It’s also helping so much to know that we have a strong support in this community helping me and my family get through this tough time. He would love to see all you guys caring about him," Pinto wrote on his Facebook page.
Friends wrote messages like "we love you" and "we miss you" in red Sharpie on balloons in Pinto's honor on Thursday and left Post-it notes on his locker.
"Dude you don’t get how many people love you bro," Kevin wrote on his Facebook page.
Eight people, including three other lifeguards, were injured by the strike's affects on White Sands Beach in Berkeley Township. They have all been released from hospitals, according to police.
Pinto was a student at Ocean County Community College and a 2020 graduate of Toms River High School North where he ran track.
Kevin Pinto told ABC 7 Eyewitness News that the four-year lifeguard aspired to be a Marine.