PARKERSBURG - A young man struck by lightning while playing softball at a church camp in Parkersburg on Wednesday was in critical condition Thursday night at a Pittsburgh hospital.
Zachary Sandy, 18, Stonewood, who graduated from Robert C. Byrd High School this year, is in the West Penn Burn Center for injuries in the lightning strike during a storm around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. Sandy and others were playing softball off Core Road where the bolt knocked him and several other players to the ground.
People at the field immediately began performing CPR on him until emergency crews responded.
Sandy initially was taken to Camden Clark Medical Center, then transferred to Ruby Memorial Hospital before taken to Pittsburgh where he was taken off a ventilator Thursday afternoon. His father, Russell Sandy, said his son was groggy and tired, but asked for a hamburger and appeared to be in good spirits.
Immediately after that he asked his family to pray with him, the father said.
''He grabbed my hand and put it to his chest and began leading us in a prayer,'' Russell said.
Since then, Zachary has been in and out of consciousness throughout the day. He is under sedation.
His father said Zachary has scorch marks from his head down to the nape of his neck as well as a number of burns and bruises.
''He took the full brunt of it,'' his father said of the lightning strike. Zachary's clothes were singed and "smells like they were just taken out of the furnace." His shoes had holes in them where the electricity passed through.
Zachary has been able to identify members of his family as well as tell everyone what his favorite drink is, Gatorade.
''The early indications seem to show no neurological problems,'' Russell said. ''All the tests look ok.''
Russell was told his son took anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 volts of electricity through his body.
''It is hard to tell exactly how much of that he actually took,'' Russell said.
Zachary turned down an offer to play football at Alderson-Broaddus College to become a minister, his calling, his father said.
''He is a very dedicated young man,'' Russell said. ''Now he will have an awesome story to start off his career as a minister.''
Russell said they have received messages from around the country from people who were wishing Zachary well and from those who were praying for him and his family.
''We are very grateful,'' Russell said of the support.
Zachary's father wanted to thank Caleb Tisdale who started performing CPR on his son immediately after the lightning strike, the crews from the Camden Clark Medical Center to Ruby Memorial Hospital and at the West Penn Burn Center who cared for his son.
''Everyone was fantastic,'' he said.
Over the next couple of days, doctors are going to continue to monitor his progress, reduce his medications and sees how he reacts.
''Right now, the prognosis is very good,'' Russell said. ''We will watch, wait and leave it in the Lord's hands.''