Dad saves 12-year-old daughter struck by lightning

A 12-year-old girl was rushed to the hospital after being struck by lightning during intense storms on Saturday in Sun City West.
Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 2:45 AM CDT
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PHOENIX (KTVK/KPHO/Gray News) - A 12-year-old girl was rushed to the hospital after being struck by lightning during intense storms in Arizona. Doctors said she’s lucky to be alive and credit her dad with saving her life.

Dr. Kevin Foster, director of the Arizona Burn Center, said Monday morning that 12-year-old Ella Jorgensen is doing well and that her family was in “good spirits.” She’s expected to be released from the hospital very soon.

Her father, Steven Jorgensen, said the first thing Ella said after waking up was that she was going to have a “cool story to tell,” KTVK/KPHO reports.

Foster said Jorgensen, a Marine veteran, was at the right place at the right time. After his daughter was struck by lightning, her heart stopped three separate times. Each time, her father resuscitated her by performing CPR.

“I’m just a dad taking care of his daughter,” Jorgensen said. “Trying to keep calm over the whole situation, the scene from ‘The Office,’ the CPR training scene, kicked in my head, and you can hear me singing the Bee Gees’ ‘Staying Alive’ as I’m giving her resuscitation.”

Jorgensen, his daughter and some of her friends were visiting grandparents in Sun City West when the storms rolled through Saturday.

“Just seemed like any other normal day when it comes to the rain here in Arizona,” he said.

He said Ella was just stepping outside when the thunder started to rumble. It was just a few seconds later when she was hit.

Doctors said the 12-year-old was lucky because they believe it was not a direct strike, and the lightning most likely struck right next to her.

“When they were taking the breathing tubes out, that’s when she was trying to figure out what happened. I broke the news to her that she got struck by lightning. She didn’t believe me at first, and once they got the tubes out and her mom told her again, she just looked at her mom and said, ‘I’m going to have a cool story to tell forever now!’” Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen said his daughter’s main injury was on her chest. She also has “real small, superficial” burns that came from a necklace she was wearing.

“The main injury she had, the burning was onto her chest. It bubbled up a little bit. And she has some minor burns on her hips, her thighs and her calf,” he said.

While lightning is quite common, being struck by it isn’t. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the chances of being struck in a given year are less than one in a million.

While almost 90% of lightning strike victims survive, the National Weather Service found 19 people in the U.S. have died from lightning so far this year. Ella came close to being the 20th.