Monsoon Special 2012: Lightning victim's survival story

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by April Warnecke

Bio | Email | Follow: @AprilWarnecke

azfamily.com

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 6:51 PM

PHOENIX -- One of the biggest dangers of our monsoon is lightning.

Arizona gets more than 500,000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes during the summer thunderstorm season. One Valley resident knows just how dangerous all that lightning can be.

Zach Cuppy had just begun his freshman year at Northern Arizona University when he was struck by lightning.

Cuppy was walking to meet some friends on campus when a monsoon storm rolled in. The bolt struck Cuppy and the tree he was standing under.

Four dormmates saw the strike and performed a new form of CPR before Cuppy was rushed to the hospital.

Doctors said he was without oxygen for 30 minutes and technically died, but they brought him back to life. After a two-week coma, Cuppy woke up paralyzed and blind.

The lightning had caused thick cataracts that Cuppy eventually had removed so he could see again, and he had to re-learn to walk.

Six years later, Cuppy is almost fully recovered.

He graduated from NAU last year and is now a teacher in the Valley. He said he hopes to pass on to his students his lessons about perseverance and endurance, but also a few lessons about Arizona weather and lightning safety.

 

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