The Christian Broadcasting Network

The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


Teen Survives Direct Hit by Lightning Bolt

By Tim Smith
The 700 Club -June 7, 2012, promised to be a beatiful day in Parkersburg, West Virginia. With clear skies and no sign of rain, it was perfect for a group at a church camp to have a pickup game of softball. But no one noticed the thundercloud that had rolled in, including 18-year-old Zach Sandy, who was in left field. Caleb Tisdale was pitching that day.

“There was a loud boom,” says Caleb “It sounded like a bomb going off and it knocked me down to my knees. I jumped up trying to figure out what had happened. Not really grasping what had taken place, it felt like somebody hit me on the back of the head with a two-by-four.”

Ralph Tisdale, also in the outfield, was one of several who were knocked down. “The kids are running of the field, screaming. He’s spinning around and looking, ‘Everybody okay? Everybody okay?’ And then I hear him say, ‘Oh my Lord.’ And then I glanced where he’s glancing, and in left field, Zach was down.”

“I slid in on my knees next to him,” says Caleb. “I knew instantly this was going to be a horrible situation.”  

“He smelled like your charcoal grill in your back yard,” adds Ralph.

“His eyes were rolled back in his head, he was locked stiff, and he had smoke coming off of his body,” says Caleb.
Ralph then throws his cell phone to his wife, and yells. “Call 911 right now!”
“I’m doing CPR on him,” remembers Caleb, “And between each breath while I’m doing compressions, I’m praying.”

“I’m praying every prayer that I can think of, and I’m so afraid,” says Ralph.

Moments later, help arrived. The EMTs continued CPR as they loaded Zach into the ambulance.

“And all the preachers there put their hands on the ambulance and continued to pray,” says Caleb. “And while they’re praying for him, finally after two to three minutes, the ambulance doors bust open and they say, ‘We have a pulse.’”

The EMTs said he may not make it through the night. His best chance was to be lifeflighted to the burn center in Pittsburgh, 100 miles away, but the storm was too severe. So he went by ambulance, still on a ventilator, to the hospital in Parkersburg. Zach’s parents, Cheri and Russell, met him there.

“That’s my baby laying there,” say Cheri, Zach’s mother. “And I have to pray and reach out to the Lord for him; because as his mother, I’m to protect him. And I wanted—if I could’ve taken his place that day, I would’ve.”

The small hospital in Parkersburg was not equipped to handle Zach. So with the storm still raging, an ambulance took him to the trauma unit in Morgantown.

“His urine bag is just blood red and they’re telling us their initial diagnosis is his kidneys are burned up, his liver and his lungs are gone,” says Ralph.

Doctors also suspected brain damage.

“All I remember is I started praying louder and louder and louder,” says Caleb. “And the whole ER section of the hospital stopped and bowed their heads and were praying while we’re praying. And while they’re working on him, Mom and Dad just simply lay their hands on him and start praying. She prayed for two to three minutes and she walked away and she walked up to me standing in the hallway with tears in her eyes. And she just said probably one of the most profound statements of faith I’ve ever heard…”

“This will be for the glory of God.”

“And she gave me a big hug and she said, ‘Everything’s going to be all right.’”

By this time, a prayer chain was well underway.

“I had to go back to camp and settle 120 kids down,” says Caleb. “And we had a prayer service just for Zach for probably 20 minutes of the service.”
Finally the storm cleared, and Zach was lifeflighted to the burn center in Pittsburgh.
Cheri remembers it well. “At the first hospital, we were worrying about his kidneys. Well, the second hospital there was a change in the kidneys. And then in the third hospital, the kidneys were working fine. There was nothing wrong with them. And it was like you knew that prayer was going forth and you could feel that it was being a change there.”

The next day, one day after the lightning strike, Zach woke up. He was in stable condition, and breathing on his own. “I just remember waking up and seeing my parents and seeing my brother,” says Zach. “And of course, they’ve got tears in their eyes. And I had no idea what happened or where I am. I am just looking around, thinking, ‘OK what’s going on?’ And, I see that I’m laying in a hospital bed.”

He had none of the internal injuries that the doctors feared he would have. “My first words were, ‘I’m hungry.’ And my Dad kind of laughed at that and he said that he knew I was okay after that because I was always hungry.”

Russell Sandy, Zach’s father, remembers it as if it were yesterday. “I believe it’s a total miracle from heaven – performed right in front of my eyes and in my own home. And I’ll be forever, ever thankful.”

 Zach’s doctor expected him to be in rehab a month, but he was out in one week – with no side effects at all.

“I would go back in for check ups and he’d walk in and say, ‘The miracle man!’ I’d be like, ‘No, no, no. I’m the vessel. God’s the Miracle Man. He’s the One that performs the miracles.’”

Today, Zach is on his way to earning his Associates degree in information systems technology.

“There’s no scientific reason, no logical explanation for why I’m sitting here in this chair today,” says Zach. “I’m able to talk. I’m able to put a sentence together. There’s no logical explanation for that, other than the fact that God had healed me. I do believe it’s a miracle, nothing less than a miracle.”

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