ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The family of a 29-year-old St. Augustine man is praying he wakes up after he was struck by lightning Tuesday night.
Rescuers found Luke Shimer on an outside upper deck of a home on Aja Road just before 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the police report.
The Army veteran, husband and teacher is being treated at the Select Specialty hospital in Ormond Beach, his family told News4Jax. He’s unconscious but has been taken off the ventilator, and receives oxygen and humidity through his tracheostomy.
The family said the staff is wonderful, and they care a great deal about Luke.
It's unknown how severe his brain damage is, but his family believes he’s going to wake up.
Shimer served his country in Afghanistan and Kuwait, and his father-in-law, Shane Sinnott, said he made it back to St. Augustine safely despite some close calls.
“Luke has a tattoo on his wrist (with) the date Dec. 30, 2010. That’s referred to his alive day, and that’s because his unit walked over and it exploded. Fortunately for them, the person who planted (it) planted it too deep in the ground,” Sinnott said.
Sinnott said May 17, 2016, will be another alive day for Shimer. It’s the day Sinnott said he heard a loud bang during a storm, then found Shimer lying on the porch.
“I think he’s asleep and I walk in. As I got closer to him, I realize instantly that something had happened. I didn’t quite connect the fact that he had been struck by lightning probably about 10 seconds (ago),” Sinnott said.
He said he also noticed Shimers’ Otterbox phone cover had been shattered, and his cellphone had gone over the deck.
“As far as we can tell, we don’t know for sure he’s got a mark right here on the side of his face. So they think the lightning struck him there and then kind of went through his body and went out,” Sinnott said.
Sinnott did CPR until first responders got to the house and took Shimer to Flagler Hospital.
His family has stayed by his side, wanting to see him get back to the things he loves -- his wife of nearly six years, his family and the students he teaches at Gaines Alternative and Transition Schools.
“Two of the noblest professions -- and there are a lot of noble professions -- is being in the military and serving your country and being a teacher. And being a special (education) teacher and serving our country, I mean he's just one incredible human being,” Sinnott said.
Shimer is a man who has survived before and whose family believes he will survive again.
“We have no choice but to believe,” Sinnott said. “(We) have to pray and we have to believe. We’ve been here since Tuesday and we're not leaving until Luke is ready to leave.”
Shimer’s family has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for his medical bills.