Teen struck by lightning shares story through book

PARKERSBURG – A year after being struck by lightning, a 19-year-old came back to where it happened to tell his story and thank those who helped that day as he spoke Wednesday evening at Spreading Truth Ministries on Core Road, Parkersburg.

“I still have some trouble with my legs and hip pain, but I’m here,” Zach Sandy said Wednesday. “I’m going to let everybody know that with God, anything is possible.

“It is fantastic that I’m still here,” he added.

Sandy said his faith is stronger than ever after the incident.

On July 11, 2012, Sandy, who lived in Stonewood at the time, was playing softball at the church camp in Parkersburg when he was struck by lightning out of an apparently clear sky. Sandy said he has since learned that while the storm approaching that day seemed far away, lightning can occur up to 10 miles away from a storm’s edge.

The bolt knocked Sandy and several other players to the ground. People immediately started seeking shelter when one of the counselors, Caleb Tisdale, noticed Sandy wasn’t moving, went to check on him and started CPR immediately after noticing he wasn’t breathing.

“I was dead, without a pulse, for a while before the EMTs were able to get me into the ambulance,” Sandy said.

Sandy said everyone at the church camp was either watching or trying to help and when he was loaded into the ambulance so the paramedics could see what else they could do to help, everyone started praying.

“They said within 10 seconds of the prayer starting, the doors of the ambulance came open and they said that they had a pulse,” he said. “It is amazing how everything played out I was dead for a half an hour with smoke coming out of my mouth and then I was alive.”

Sandy was first taken to Camden Clark Medical Center, then to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown before being sent to West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh. He was at first in critical condition but quickly began to recover.

Following his release from the hospital, Sandy said he initially had some problems with standing and walking and initially had to use a walker after his release from the hospital. He also had constant pain to deal with in his legs, but that later began to diminish and his strength started returning.

A two-sport athlete in Clarksburg with a scholarship to play football in college, Sandy was initially told he might need to use the walker permanently, but he has been working since then to rehabilitate his body.

In that time, his father, Russell Sandy, began to write a book, with input from his wife, Cheri Sandy.

“It was like therapy,” Russell Sandy said. “I knew in the back of my mind that we had an awesome story to tell and one day I just sat down at the computer and it came out.”

Russell Sandy said the book, “In Lieu of Flowers, God Gave Us A Miracle: Raised to life after a fatal lightning strike! The true life-story of Zach Sandy,” was also to answer the questions from people around the country wanting to know how his son was doing.

“The book sheds light on what we went through,” he said. “It has been overwhelming how people wanted to help.”

The book is available at Amazon.com and The Gallery in Grand Central Mall.