Lightning strike survivor shares his story 1 year later

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — A young man who survived a lightning strike was back at the hospital where he was treated, sharing his story in the hope it would help save lives.

Isaiah Cormier, along with the doctor who treated him, spoke to a group gathered to learn how to avoid being struck in the first place.

It was almost exactly a year ago that Cormier was struck by lightning in Boulder County. The 19-year-old was at a campground near Nederland when a bolt of lightning knocked him out. He remembers very little of the experience. "It struck me right here in the neck and exited out my foot -- which was numb and was immobile for a while -- which is how they knew where the exit was," he said.

A few hours after the hit, a ferning pattern appeared on his chest. "I wasn’t in as much pain as you would expect, but all of my muscles were so stiff," he said.

Comier’s then-girlfriend saved his life by performing CPR. He was taken to the UCHealth Burn Center, where he spoke Friday as part of a lecture addressing lightning injuries. "I would not be here today if my girlfriend at the time had not had CPR certification, and thankfully it was fresh on her mind. So even if people have gotten certified before, it doesn’t hurt to get a refresher course," Cormier said.

The doctor who treated Cormier said most lightning strike patients survive. "There are two big things that happen in a lightning strike. They can have significant neurological injuries, and the other thing that can happen is their heart can stop," said Anne Wagner, the UCHealth Burn Center medical director.

According to the  National Weather Service, lightning has killed three people since 1980 and injures a dozen others annually in Colorado.

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