PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Emma Eggler, a freshman at the University of West Florida, had doctors telling her she is lucky to be alive after being struck by lightning during her first day of classes at the university.
It was a rainy Monday afternoon at UWF, so the Alabama 18-year-old said she decided to walk through the trees after leaving her math class. Suddenly, she said she was on the ground, unable to move.
“I was walking to my last class of the day,” said Eggler. “There were other people around walking, and it was storming, but it seemed like it was farther away. Next thing I knew, I woke up on the ground and at first, I thought I had just fallen. I didn’t realize that I had been struck by lightning, 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.”
After regaining some movement, Eggler said she tried to call her mom, but her phone was fried. A friend was able to help her call her mom and Eggler said he stayed on the phone the entire time with her.
“He was very calm and collected,” Erin Eggler said. “I thought he was a staff member at the university, not a student. I was asking him all of these crazy questions because we live in Alabama. We had to drive a long way to get there, so I didn’t know if I was supposed to get in the car right now, or what was going on. We have all just been really shocked that this happened and that she is still here with us. It is just a miracle.”
She said her friends were able to move her to a bench, where she realized she had been struck by lightning.
“My shirt was melted to me,” said Eggler. “Nelson gave me the shirt off his back because I basically didn’t have a shirt. Then I sat there with them and waited for the paramedics to come. I truly thought that I was paralyzed.”
After being transported to Sacred Heart in Pensacola, doctors told Eggler she was lucky to be alive.
“All of the doctors were in shock,” said Eggler. “They told me I needed to buy a lottery ticket because I was very lucky. They told me that the lightning went through really close to my heart. The doctors told my mom and cousin that it could have stopped my heart, but it didn’t and that it was the equivalent of having a heart attack, but I didn’t have a heart attack because I was so young.”
Eggler said she has second degree burns on her chest, stomach and wrist because her Apple Watch exploded. She said the lightning current exited her body through her shoes, which also had holes burned in them. After being at Sacred Heart, she was transferred to the University of Alabama in Birmingham Burn Center.
Since she is a freshman, Eggler said she is just taking the basic courses at UWF at the moment and plans to return to school next week.
“UWF has been so nice and supportive of me,” Eggler said. “I feel good going back because everyone has been so helpful there.”