Alabama Teen Survives Lightning Strike to the Chest on First Day of College

by Amy Myers

As if the first day of college isn’t nerve-wracking enough, this University of West Florida freshman had a pretty untraditional start to her year when a bolt of lightning struck her right through her chest, just barely missing her heart.

On Monday, 18-year-old Emma Eggler had just begun her first day of classes after her family moved her onto the Pensacola campus the previous weekend. While walking across her new home for the next four years, the Alabama native fell motionless to the ground after a lightning strike traveled through her chest.

Luckily, though, Eggler survived the incident so that she could tell her story of bravery.

“I did not feel anything at all, really. I just woke up on the ground,” Eggler told WEARTV.

The new UWFP student wasn’t quite sure what happened before she lost consciousness, so she just assumed she lost her footing… a much more logical conclusion than being the victim of a lightning strike.

“I was more embarrassed because I thought I tripped and fell on the ground. Then, I realized I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak and I couldn’t do anything,” she told WKRG in a separate interview.

In reality, something much scarier had occurred. While Eggler was processing the fact that she couldn’t move, a passing senior came to help her, telling her how strong she was and that she was just having a bad day.

Florida College Student Came Away With Just Second Degree Burns From Lightning Strike

Already, it was clear the kind of damage that the strike had caused the teenager. It left her with a torn shirt, exploded her Apple Watch on her wrist and even tore her shoe.

“My shirt was completely open because of the lightning strike. It melted to me,” she told WEARTV.

Later, in the hospital, doctors told Eggler that “the lightning went through really close to my heart.”

They added that the only reason she didn’t have a cardiac arrest following the lightning strike was likely because of her young age.

“A lot of doctors told me I should buy a lottery ticket because I was so lucky,” she said.

She’s now recovering from second-degree burns on her chest and stomach. But Eggler is just happy that she’s alive and that the paralysis she initially experienced was temporary.

Of course, her parents came to see their student as soon as they caught word of the accident. They, too, are immensely grateful that the 18-year-old came away from the lightning strike in one piece.

“We definitely feel like God performed a miracle for her,” she told the news station. “That is the only explanation for why she is still here with us.”

It’s not clear if or when Eggler will return to classes, but from her good spirits in the hospital, it might take more than a lightning strike to keep this Argonaut down.