Man struck by lightning in PCB shares his journey to recovery

In what could be called a miracle, professional opera singer and Illinois native Joshua Weeker survived a lightning strike last month in Panama City Beach.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 6:48 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Joshua Wheeker never imagined he would be struck by lightning while on vacation in Panama City Beach.

“It’s always in the back of your head when you’re in a storm, you’re like, oh, maybe? But how many times have you been out walking and getting caught and rain in the rain? To answer your question, no I would have never considered this to have been something in my life that would happen,” Wheeker said.

NewsChannel 7 sat down with Wheeker in an exclusive interview on Tuesday. When we asked Wheeker to walk us through what happened on April 27, he said he does not remember much.

“I think I remember going to the beach with my brother and my father. I vaguely remember fishing a little bit and after that, I really don’t remember anything until a couple of days after in the hospital. I remember waking up and thinking I’m just so blessed to have the family and friends that I do. You know, I remember seeing my family and friends in the hospital. My mind is still kind of. putting everything together, every day I’ll get a new memory kind of coming back to me. But the actual strike itself and events leading up to it and proceeding it, really, I don’t remember much,” Wheeker said.

Wheeker told us that it’s because of his family that he is here. His dad and brother performed CPR until EMS could arrive on the scene.

“My father and my brother, thank God they were there. They did compressions for 2 1/2 minutes, I think until EMS arrived and then EMS did compressions for another 7 minutes. So I think for 9 1/2 minutes I was dead. My father is a nurse and my brother is a unit coordinator, so they both immediately just went to work doing compressions on me. I think without them and without Fire and Rescue, I wouldn’t be here today,” Wheeker said.

As far as his recovery goes, Wheeker tells us he is doing okay.

“I still have. I’m mostly deaf in my right ear and my vision is fairly different in my right eye and I have a lot of neuropathy and things like that, but overall, I’m doing a lot better,” Wheeker said.

When Wheeker is not on vacation fishing, he is taking center stage. He tells us he is an opera singer, and he thinks his tenor voice will be okay when he gets to return to the stage.

“So far as I can tell, I’ve been doing a little bit of practicing. I haven’t been trying to push it too much, but things, you know, knock on wood have been pretty back to normal,” Wheeker said.

Now Wheeker will continue to recover with his wife and children by his side.

You can also check out our full, exclusive interview on our YouTube.