SURF CITY, NC (WECT) – A Surf City visitor was struck by lightning Monday and died, but was brought back to life, thanks to the help of witnesses and first responders.
The Surf City Police Chief says Demitri Khorokhorimn and his fiancee were holding hands and walking on the beach near S. Shore Drive around 3:30 p.m. when the Demitri was struck by lightning in the head. Police say it traveled through his body, shocking his fiancee and sending her flying through the air.
"One second I'm holding hands and being happy, and the next second I'm lying on the ground paralyzed and scared to death," said his fiancee Yuliana Kukharenka. She says she never even saw the lightning coming. "I heard something electrical, it was like something went through me," she said.
The next thing she knew, she was lying down in the sand several feet away from Demitri. "I didn't feel anything at all, and I just started screaming his name and he didn't respond," she says. Eventually she was able to make her way over to him.
"I was on my knees and I turned him over, and he was purple an blue and his mouth and eyes were open and it was so scary," she says.
Luckily, help was close by. Lt. Kris Johnson, an off duty New Hanover Firefighter says he was working on a house, when he saw the lightning strike happen. He says it was raining very hard, and hard to see, but he could tell the victim jumped several feet into the air. Johnson says he rushed down to the beach, and when he got there the victim didn't have a pulse.
He says he started giving the victim CPR and continued until an officer Garrett Mauck with the Surf City Police Department arrived, together the two continued to give him chest compressions, until EMS arrived and said that Demitri had a pulse. "We just felt him, we felt him come back to life," said Mauck.
"I watched him turn pink, he wasn't that horrible purple blue color," Yuliana said. Demitri was taken to Chapel Hill to be treated for possible internal damage, his fiancee says he is doing well and could be released any day.
Due to the high cost of medical expenses, she says a fund has been set up in his name at the Wilmington PNC Branch, called 'Miracle on the Beach".
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