Teen who survived 2018 lightning strike shares message of hope for girl struck in Sun City West

Josiah Wiedman made a remarkable recovery since being struck by lightning. He has a message for the little girl and her family going through the same thing.
Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 7:58 PM MST|Updated: Oct. 17, 2022 at 8:20 PM MST
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EL MIRAGE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - What happened to 12-year-old Ella Jorgensen this past weekend is eerily similar to another west Valley teen who was struck by lightning in 2018. Josiah Wiedman was just thirteen at the time, and although physically injured during the incident, he was another case doctors said was a miracle. Four years later, Wiedman has made a remarkable recovery and has a message for the little girl and her family going through the same thing.

These two instances have many similarities: They happened just a few miles apart- one in Sun City West, the other in El Mirage. Both Jorgensen and Wiedman are part of a rare statistic of being struck by lightning. Wiedman, now 17, wants to show Jorgensen what surviving can be like after recovery.

“I learned that life is precious, and we shouldn’t take it for granted,” said Wiedman. He says being outside skating and landing a trick, taking a step, or even just a breath, is a blessing. “It can be taken away from us at any time,” he said. For the teen, it almost was.

The surveillance video was heart-stopping. In 2018, Wiedman and his friend were walking home when it started to rain, and Wiedman had his skateboard in hand. Next thing they knew, a lightning bolt struck them both unconscious. “When it hit it, it went through my leg and hit my friend next to me too,” Wiedman said. “They ended up teaching me how to walk again because I struggled with that.” Wiedman was in a medically induced coma for three days - a once large mark on his leg is now just a small scar. But his survival was a miracle.

Doctor Kevin Foster at the Arizona Burn Center said that while Arizona doesn’t have a ton of lightning, we have more people being struck by lightning, which they believe is linked to our types of storms. “Our storms tend to be quite sudden, very severe and tend to happen at times when people are outside doing things,” Dr. Foster said.

But recovery from a strike can be traumatic, and that’s where Wiedman wants to change the narrative. “After I got struck by lightning, I started focusing more on the left side of the brain instead of the right, my logical side,” he said. Wiedman said not only is he physically more able-bodied, but he’s now learned the guitar and piano, is in a band called “Death Ode,” has his own clothing line, and writes poetry- things he never could do before.

“It awakened something in me and gave me this passion that I love today with writing music, and just drawing and doing anything creative,” Wiedman said. He has a message for the little girl and her family going through the aftermath of the near-death experience now: the other side of the storm is coming. “It takes time, but at the end of it when you survive, when you get through it, when you prosper, there’s many good things that will come out of it,” Wiedman said.

Another similarity between the two incidents was that someone was in the area to keep Wiedman and Jorgensen alive until paramedics arrived. For Wiedman, a good Samaritan, who was a veteran, found him after he was struck and performed CPR for 30 minutes before paramedics could get there, saving his life. Jorgensen was saved by her father, who is also a veteran, after he performed CPR multiple times.

It shows how vital CPR training and knowledge are, and both of these teens are alive because of it.