Florence football coach speaks about surviving lightning strike

Florence football coach speaks about surviving lightning strike

Florence, SC (WMBF) - On a muggy August afternoon in Florence, Zach Mumford was doing what he loved: coaching little league football.

"Before the storm hit, we saw lightning in the distance and we went ahead and called practice," Zach said. "The parents stay at practice so we got all the kids in the car. As the kids were leaving, we went on the field to get our equipment, and that's the last thing I remember."

In a split second, up to a billion volts coursed through Zach's body.

"It entered right here, near here, in my neck because I lost all feeling on this side of my neck. I don't feel anything. It basically entered all through my right side and then came out my foot," Zach said.

A bolt the size of a quarter with a temperature likely five times hotter than the surface of the sun left Zach's body lifeless on the field.

"The coach that was giving me CPR said when he turned me over that my clothes were smoking," Zach continued. "Like there was actually smoke coming from my clothes."

The other coaches around him were knocked to their knees by the thunder's sonic boom. They were, however, able to start CPR on Zach before EMS arrived.

"I was out for 11 minutes, I think," Zach explained. "They brought me back twice with the defibrillator, they shocked me twice."

While paramedics tried to revive Zach's physical body, the rest of him was somewhere else. "It was a time or a place that you can't really describe. It is, I would say it's the afterlife," he said.

Zach spent five days in a medically-induced coma.

His scars aren't limited to the ones you just see on his body. "People think I'm 100 percent fine," he said. They think, 'oh he got struck but he's walking and he looks perfectly fine.' That's not the case."

While his survival was a miracle, his symptoms are still a medical mystery.

"I have yet to find a doctor that has given me an explanation for everything that I'm going through," Zach said.

Though the physical impacts of the strike were negative, his outlook from this trauma is positive.

"I don't look at this like it's a bad thing," Zach said. "I look at it as a blessing. It opened my eyes to a lot of things and it's just helped me with a lot so far as far as not taking things for granted and who is there for me when I needed them the most."

Zach's ready to get back to what he loves most.

"I'm just ready to get back out there and coach again," he said. "I'm not worried about any more storms or anything like that. I'm just going out there and coaching and being with my friends and the kids and everybody."

Even though Zach and the officials called practice at the first sight of lightning and did everything they could to protect themselves, lightning can still strike from storms that up to 20 miles away.

Every year on average, 31 people are killed and 300 people injured from lightning, according to the National Weather Service.

More Lightning Safety facts from the National Weather Service: http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/safety.shtml

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