TRAFFIC ALERT

TRAFFIC ALERT

UD student hit by lightning: 'I’m just realizing how fragile life can be'

Published: Wednesday, April 08, 2015 @ 7:41 PM
Updated: Friday, August 21, 2015 @ 8:43 PM

UD student struck by lightning wants to give back to hospitalized patients

The University of Dayton student hit by lightning four months ago is returning to campus for his senior year.

Sean Ferguson of Pittsburgh spent the summer rehabilitating, first at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Mercy and later at his home. Now, the 23-year-old is up and moving and hardly shows any signs of the ordeal that almost claimed his life. He’s ready for his last year on campus.

“That ultimately was my motivation through this whole thing, was to get back,” Ferguson said.

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Ferguson will graduate in December with a bachelor’s in business administration.

“I’m just realizing how fragile life can be, and that it can be taken at any given moment,” Ferguson said during an interview in Dayton on Sunday. “So, on the one it’s really great because I don’t take anything for granted now. I feel like I’ve been able to receive support that’s second to none.”

Ferguson said he felt an outpour of support when he returned to campus over the weekend making him feel proud to call himself a UD student.

“It’s also tough when you realize you were really close to not being here again it changes your perspective on things.”

UPDATE @ 7 p.m. April 21: Sean Ferguson, the University of Dayton student hit by lightning two weeks ago, “has been moved out of critical care into an area of the hospital to focus on his rehabilitation” at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Mercy in his hometown of Pittsburgh, his family said.

Ferguson, 23, is alert and able to talk. He has had surgeries to repair his broken jaw and to place skin grafts over his burns.

The Pittsburgh Pirates fan got a pleasant surprise Sunday night when friend Ashlee Darby presented him with a signed Andrew McCutchen jersey. Darby is part of a charity team that works with the Pirates star and asked the 2013 National League MVP to sign a jersey for Ferguson.

“There are simply no words to express our deep gratitude to all of those who rushed to the scene,” his parents, Mark and Sue, said in a letter to the UD community. “These first responders, especially the student who stepped forward to initiate CPR, quite simply saved our son’s life.”

Darby said Ferguson is “all there cognitively” and enjoys visitors.

He was transferred on April 19 from Miami Valley Hospital’s burn unit to UPMC Mercy. The marketing major is on schedule to graduate in December.

UPDATE @ 6 a.m. April 17:

The University of Dayton released new information from the family of the student who was hit by lightning on campus earlier this month.

Sean Ferguson’s family says he is beginning a “lengthy and difficult recovery.”

UD shared comments from a letter written by his family on their website.

They say his condition has “improved from a fight for his life to a long, arduous recovery process…

“The road ahead to recovery is going to be difficult and filled with numerous surgeries and rehabilitation to repair his burns and broken bones over the coming weeks and months.”

They also shared thanks for the prayers, which have come in from around the world, including Australia, Brazil and Ireland, according to UD.

The family’s comments continue:

“It would be understandable to view the events of this past week in a tragic and negative light — to question why this freak accident happened to our son. Despite this natural inclination, we feel that the events of the past few days actually revealed the ever-present hand of God in our life.

“How many parents have an opportunity to receive the gift of their child’s life not just once, at birth, but twice? Our family has been granted the ultimate Easter blessing by our loving Father. We should not be sorrowful, but rather joyful. Our son was lost, and by God’s grace, he has been returned to us.”

Ferguson, 23, remains in critical but stable condition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, according to UD.

Almost $11,000 has been donated to help in his recovery through Gofundme.com/seanstrong.

UPDATE @12:28 p.m. April 13:

The University of Dayton student who was struck by lightning last week is listed in serious condition today at a Pittsburgh hospital after being transferred there.

Sean Ferguson, a 23-year-old senior marketing major, was flown to UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, where he will be closer to his family.

Friends have started a recovery fund for Ferguson at gofundme.com/SeanStrong gofundme.com/SeanStrong>.

Ferguson was struck by lightning April 8 in a parking lot on the UD campus.

Doctors said he was in critical condition last week while being treated at Miami Valley Hospital.

UPDATE @ 5:42 p.m. April 9:

University of Dayton students, faculty and staff gathered in the Chaminade Chapel on campus to pray for Sean Ferguson, the senior hit by lightning Wednesday evening.

Some students were given the opportunity to write short notes of encouragement to Ferguson. Those notes will be shared with the young man, who remains in Miami Valley Hospital.

UPDATE @3:16 p.m. April 9:

The name of the student was released moments ago. Sean B. Ferguson is a 23-year-old senior marketing major from Pittsburgh. He is in critical but stable condition at Miami Valley Hospital, according to his father, Mark Ferguson. According to the release, the campus community is holding a prayer service in the Chaminade Chapel on campus beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday, to pray for healing for Sean.

UPDATE @2:48 p.m. April 9:

The University of Dayton student struck by lightning Wednesday night has been identified as Sean Ferguson through his church in the Pittsburgh area.

The pastor at Saint Mary of the Assumption told our partners at WPXI in Pittsburgh that Ferguson is a member of the church.

UPDATE @ 12:20 p.m. April 9:

The UD student struck by lightning remains in the hospital as of this afternoon, a university spokesperson said.

School and police officials have not yet released any other information about his identity or condition.

UPDATE @ 8:30 a.m. April 9:

A 911 call indicates the University of Dayton student struck by lightning was not conscious before emergency crews arrived on scene yesterday.

The caller tells a dispatcher that the victim was “not moving at all,” according to a recording of the conversation.

He then said the student was “not responding” as someone performed chest compressions.

The dispatcher asked to be put on speaker phone and gave instructions on how to perform CPR.

The caller said he was parking his car when, “I saw him running and I saw the lightning come down and I saw him hit the ground.”

The student was conscious when rescue workers took him to the hospital.

UPDATE @ 11:10 p.m. April 8:

The student’s injuries are said to be life-threatening, Dayton Fire District Chief Joe Meyer said.

Meyer said it is a miracle the young man was conscious when rescue personnel took him to a hospital.

UD student Michael Jacob told News Center 7’s Layron Livingston he was studying in a nearby building when he heard a loud clap of thunder, then heard sirens from fire trucks, ambulances and police.

Jacob said he looked out of a window and saw them gathered around, in a cluster, in the center of the parking lot where the student was struck.

William Fischer, vice president for student development at UD, asked students, faculty and staff to pray for the student, his family and friends. No other information about the student has been made public.

FIRST REPORT

A University of Dayton student struck by lightning as he walked across a parking lot near the recreation complex has been taken to Miami Valley Hospital.

He is said to be in serious condition, UD safety officials and Dayton fire officials tell us.

Fire department medics were dispatched to a lot near the Fitness and Recreation Complex — commonly called the RecPlex — about 7:12 p.m. on a report of a student in full arrest due to possible lightning strike.

The Dayton fire chief said witnesses tell paramedics that the male was dressed in workout clothes and suffered severe burns.

We have a crew on scene. We will update this report as we get information

Ferguson will graduate in December with a bachelor’s in business administration.

 

“I’m just realizing how fragile life can be, and that it can be taken at any given moment,” Ferguson said during an interview in Dayton on Sunday. “So, on the one it’s really great because I don’t take anything for granted now. I feel like I’ve been able to receive support that’s second to none.”

 

Ferguson said he felt an outpour of support when he returned to campus over the weekend making him feel proud to call himself a UD student.

 

“It’s also tough when you realize you were really close to not being here again it changes your perspective on things.”