UPDATE: 8/26/12 11:47 PM
Some say it's a miracle. Zach Sandy was struck by lightning nearly a month ago.
His heart stopped beating for more than 30 minutes. But now he's back to revisit the place where his life changed in a split second.
"I actually sat in the place, well, what we think is the exact place I got struck. And it was really peaceful and I just thought about everything that I've been through," says Zach.
He's been through a lot since a bolt of lightning struck the 18 year old in the back of the head and traveled through his body.
In town for church camp, eye witnesses say his body was scorched and he smelled of charcoal.
The teen, however, doesn't remember the accident at all.
"Afterward I remember waking up in the hospital and that was probably the scariest part of the whole thing. And I had a bunch of tubes and wires and I just had no idea what happened. And I saw my parents and they were all crying and I was just like what happened? And they were all trying to calm me down because I was going crazy. I didn't know what to do. It was very scary," says Zach.
Zach says the whole experience has brought him closer to God and his family.
He had a football scholarship to Alderson Broaddus, but gave it up to pursue a future as a preacher.
"Being very active and playing sports and being able to do just about anything I want, to not being able to walk very well and not being able to go up steps by myself it gets me down and it really depresses me," says Zach.
Especially as an athlete. But maybe forgetting is it's own kind of miracle.
"I'm kind of happy I don't remember it because I don't want to remember what it felt like because I think that would scare me more than anything just to remember the pain that it was when it initially hit," says Zach.
But the pain lingers, especially in his legs. Doctors expect a full recovery, but say he may need a year of physical therapy.
Zach is handling the struggle with the grace of someone well beyond his years.
"All I can really do is look forward and be happy for what the future has in store I guess."
UPDATE: Monday, July 23, 2012 by Jillian Risberg
Zach Sandy, 18, the Clarksburg teen who was struck by lightning while playing ball at the Parkersburg Christian School on Core Road shouldn't be alive, according to doctors, but has defied the odds and is making a miraculous recovery.
One week ago, he was transferred to Health South Hospital in Morgantown, where he has been receiving aggressive rehabilitation from Monday through Saturday.
Doctors say his strength has improved greatly since arriving there and it may only be one more week before he is released and approved for outpatient physical therapy from home.
With youth and athleticism on his side, doctors say Zach could recover in just two to three months time. Three to six months is typical for injuries of this caliber.
He is doing fantastically, according to his father Russell, who says Zach is talking, interacting with friends and family on Facebook and using his cellphone. His balance is still somewhat off, but he is walking with the aid of a walker or pushing a wheelchair from one end of the hallway to the other -- 30, 40, 50 steps.
Zach is working with a speech therapist and also trying to regain his memory.
"We're praying all the time," Russell says. "We're believers all our lives and put our trust in the Lord."
A typical summer day with a bunch of kids enjoying a sports game turned into a devastating incident that rocked Parkersburg and beyond.
"I threw the second pitch and as soon as the ball left my hands I heard a big rumble of thunder," says Caleb Tisdale, principal of Parkersburg Christian School. "Then boom, and the next thing I know I was coming up off my knees looking around trying to see what happened."
Tisdale saw another gentleman getting up and heard all the kids screaming.
"They were running up the hill and we were telling them to get up the hill because it was starting to thunder and lightening and I finished my circle, I seen the young man laying on the ground... unconscious,"
Witnessing nature's fury is a scene Tisdale won't soon forget. Doctors say that 20,000 to 40,000 volts of electricity shot through Zach Sandy's body.
"It blew the pant legs completely off his legs and blew a hole through his shoes," Tisdale says. "As I did CPR, I could smell the smoke...he smelled like he had been in a fire."
It's hard to believe anyone could survive such a hit and Tisdale thought Zach was dead.
"He was as stiff as a board, his arms were locked out and his legs were locked, his head was back and his mouth was open and his eyes were kind of rolled back in his head," he says.
People are pulling for the teen at every turn with the power of prayer.
"All the churches that are affiliated with us, throughout the whole state and even in Ohio and Pennsylvania, there was a prayer chain going," Tisdale says.
From the EMS to Camden Clark's own Dr. Anthony Kitchen, top notch medical care attended to Zach at the most harrowing time.
"Parkersburg's blessed to have medical crew and medical staff that caring and devoted to helping a young man," Tisdale says.
While divine intervention may be at play, the youth pastor asks the public to keep Zach in their prayers. He doesn't know the teen personally, but once he recovers, that could change.
"He's gonna recover and I'm going to invite him down to Parkersburg to come talk to my church," Tisdale says. "I can't wait to meet him. Ever since this happened, he feels like a little brother to me."