Jacob Brewer does physical therapy at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab


'I'm just thankful to be here': Lightning strike survivor recounts his 4-month journey to recovery

Posted By Megan Washburn






It happened in July. The Brewer family — Barbara and Jeremiah and their children Ashley and Jacob — escaped the confines of the COVID-19 lockdown affecting us all to take a family vacation in Sarasota, Fla. But on their second day on the beach, a summer thunderstorm began to build. They were running from the beach to their car when the lightning hit.

"My mom was screaming 'Jacob!'" his sister Ashely recalled. Jacob had taken a direct hit. The lighting entered his chest and exited his right foot. His family turned around to see him sprawled on the sand, his body lifeless

But three months after those frightening 45 minutes with no pulse, while good Samaritans, a sheriff's deputy and paramedics resuscitated him four different times, I found Jacob and his mom in mid-October in Chicago, Ill.

After surviving the lightning strike, after enduring multiple surgeries to open his shins and forearms to save him from compartment syndrome (the literal shock to his neurological system caused pressure to build in his legs, arms, and back), Jacob was now being treated at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in downtown Chicago where he was receiving physical and occupational therapy. While the lightning strike and 45-minute stoppage of his heart did not leave him with any cognitive damage, he is still paralyzed from the waist down.

"I'm just thankful to be here," Jacob said. "And still have the chance to live the rest of my life. It could be way worse."

Read the full story on WFAA ABC 8.

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