Local woman’s CPR saves the life of a man struck by lightning
Vacation to Disney World’s Fort Wilderness turns frightening for one local family
By Carrie A. Mizell
A Trenton woman is being credited as a hero, after performing CPR to save the life of a man who was struck by lightning while camping at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness on Friday.
Along with their three children and a family friend, Bryan and Carolyn Vickers of Trenton arrived at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness three hours before the designated check-in time on Friday. Luckily, the family was allowed to go ahead and set up tents at their campsite. They had one tent up and were starting on the second when they began hearing the rumble of thunder and lightning in the area.
Carolyn recalls her 10-year-old daughter being so scared by the lightning that she ran to the family’s vehicle and jumped in.
“She was so upset she couldn’t even close the door,” Vickers said.
When a third bolt of lightning hit close to the family’s campsite, they decided to get in their vehicle and drive to a safer area to wait out the storm. The family drove down the trail and after three or four minutes on the road came upon a lot of commotion at a campsite. When they saw a man lying on the ground, Carolyn told her husband to stop the car and she jumped out.
After running over to where the man was lying, Carolyn assessed the situation and took charge.
“There was a lot of uncertainty with the people around the man,” Vickers said. “Everyone was a little dazed.”
She remembers laying her hands on the man and praying for him before she began resuscitation, after discovering that Steven Thompson, 36, of Melbourne, had a pulse, but was not breathing. Shortly after, Steven’s brother-in-law, Greg Parker, who had also received a slight jolt from the lightning, relieved Carolyn.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Carolyn said. “His head and neck were purple and there was a spot on his chest that was purple. His eyes were gray.”
Carolyn then called 911 to double-check that help was on the way. She also counted out the breath cadence and prayed for Steven’s recovery for about 10 minutes until emergency medical personnel arrived on scene and took over.
Because of Carolyn’s quick response, Steven is alive today.
According to Steven’s father, Paul Thompson, Steven is slowly re-gaining all his functions.
On Tuesday, Paul Thompson said that Steven was scheduled for a heart catheterization to determine exactly what is going on with his heart, which is only operating at about 30 percent.
Steven’s father said that Steven, his wife and their two children, along with his sister and brother-in-law and several friends were preparing to leave the campground when the lightning strike occurred.
Steven’s parents, Paul and Sylvia Thompson, credit Carolyn as a Good Samaritan. They feel that Carolyn’s quick response saved Steven’s life.
“The Lord sent two angels to help save his life,” Paul Thompson said.
When the Vickers family left the campground, they stopped by Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando before heading home to check on Steven, who is in the intensive care unit. It was then that Carolyn had the opportunity to meet Steven and his family.
Interestingly enough, Steven has family living in Gilchrist County. His grandmother is Grace Thompson and his aunt is Martha Sanders of Trenton.
On Tuesday, Carolyn said she has been in contact with Steven’s parents to monitor his condition. She is looking forward to seeing the Thompson family again when they visit their family in Gilchrist County on July 15.
“We are going to all try and get together,” Carolyn said.
As for now, Carolyn said she plans to take her children to a North Florida Safety Council training to learn CPR and refresh her own skills, which she learned some 20 years ago through Red Cross training.
“I am amazed! All I can do is credit God with this,” Carolyn said. “It was just meant to be.”
Carolyn said that her father had bought the Disney tickets originally with plans to take his grandchildren; she wasn’t even supposed to be there.
“I am just crushed that Steven’s children had to see this. I can’t imagine what it must be like for them,” Carolyn said.
As thunder rumbled in the sky and rain poured down Tuesday morning in Gilchrist County, Carolyn said her children ages 12, 10 and 7 all came and got in the bed with her. Undoubtedly the children were afraid after seeing such a traumatic scene as their mother resuscitating a man who was very near death.
“It just builds my faith further in the Lord that He could use someone as simple as me,” Carolyn said.