Lightning victim recovering

The Cherry Hill youth is speaking and walking, but can't clearly remember being struck June 12.

Posted: June 23, 2007

A Cherry Hill teenager struck by lightning this month is on the way to a full recovery at Temple University Hospital's Burn Center.

Zachary Yizzi, 14, is speaking and walking on his own, his parents said yesterday.

The boy "kinda-sorta knows what happened" when he was struck by the bolt on June 12, said his father, Brian Yizzi, but cannot clearly remember.

Lightning hit Zachary Yizzi, an eighth grader at Carusi Middle School, and stopped his heart as he walked under a tree from one friend's house to another, Brian Yizzi said. The jolt knocked Zachary to the ground unconscious, and his shirt burst into flames.

John Montorano, a neighbor, told emergency responders that he heard a loud bang and saw Zachary on the ground. He rushed outside, doused the fire, and called 911, Yizzi said.

Yizzi said Montorano had "found a friend for life." He added, "I'm going to be taking him with me wherever I go."

Emergency medical technicians from the Cherry Hill Fire Department delivered three shocks from an automated external defibrillator to restart the boy's heart before transporting him to Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

William Hughes, the boy's doctor and director of the Temple University Hospital Burn Center, said Zachary was very lucky to have received such quick care.

One-third of Zachary's body - his back, the back of his legs, and his right arm - was burned, Hughes said. The boy was later transferred to Temple, his breathing controlled by a ventilator.

On June 15, the doctor operated on Zachary, grafting skin to the burned areas.

Zachary's parents said the family had received an outpouring of support from relatives, friends and coworkers.

Being struck by lightning is rare in this part of the country, Hughes said. About 80 people in the United States die from lightning strikes in a typical year, he said.

Donations may be sent to the Benefit Fund for Zachary Yizzi, c/o Commerce Bank, Box 4430, Cherry Hill, N.J. 08034-0672.


Contact staff writer Samuel Dangremond at 856-779-3917 or sdangremond@phillynews.com.

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