PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It was last summer when KDKA’s David Highfield stood outside West Penn Hospital.
Zach Sandy was in the burn unit.
And his parents were saying a lot of prayers that their son would be OK.
When asked if he remembered being struck by lightning, Sandy said, “I don’t really remember anything.”
Sandy was 18 years old, at a church camp in West Virginia, when he was hit by lightning while playing softball.
“They didn’t have a pulse on you right?” Highfield asked.
“No they didn’t,” Sandy said.
Eventually paramedics did get a pulse. His parents showed the clothes Sandy had on that day.
“The inside of the shoe is the exit – what that hole in there is the exit,” his mother, Cheri Sandy said.
His shirt and pants are both singed and smell of smoke.
“It actually melted a hole in that,” she said.
“They were kind of preparing my parents for the worst – he might not know who you are – he might not know – he might be paralyzed for the rest of his life,” Sandy said.
When he woke up, he recognized everyone, but in fact, he couldn’t walk.
“It fired every muscle in my legs – to the point that my legs were just really jiggly – no muscle definition,” Sandy said.
The young man who had planned on going to college on a football scholarship needed a wheelchair to get around.
“One day you’re perfectly fine – and the next you can’t even stand up on your own,” Sandy said. “It’s pretty rough.”
He worked through rehab and refused to give up. Eventually he could walk on his own, climb steps and now, nearly a year later, he can even jog.
Still, he faces obstacles.
“He gets up in the night with a lot of pain – a lot of pain in the hips and the legs,” Cheri Sandy said.
“I knew that God had more in store and that he wasn’t finished,” Zach Sandy said. “I just feel like every day it’s another miracle that I’m getting stronger and I’m able to walk on my own.”
When asked if it’s a miracle that he can walk, he says, “Oh yes. Miracle – yes.”
The sandy family lives near Clarksburg, but is so grateful to West Penn Hospital for the care Zach got there.
They have a book coming out about his experience.
Sandy says he wants to be a minister, but also a part-time physical therapist so he can use his story to inspire others.