A Naperville opera singer, who was struck by lightning at a Florida pier, has since regained consciousness and spoken with relatives, but “still has a long way to go” in his recovery, according to family members.
Joshua Wheeker, 33, was struck by lightning on Thursday while at the City Pier in Panama City Beach with his brother and father, according to relatives. Both his brother and father performed CPR until paramedics arrived and transported him to the hospital.
In an update posted on Facebook Saturday morning, Wheeker’s wife, Tara, explained he was coming in from the pier, not 20 feet away from safety, when lightning hit.
“Some of you may know that my husband, Josh, was struck by lightning less than 48 hours ago. It’s still unbelievable to even write those words,” she said in the post, in part.
Since being hospitalized, Wheeker has regained consciousness, and according to his wife, “even expressed his true Josh nature, which for those of you that know him, means being his goofy, loving, and selfless person.”
“He is still battling though,” Tara added. “His body went through an intense trauma and we are still unsure how it will continue to manifest. Currently, his short term memory is struggling, but we are hoping that will improve with time. The pain is quite intense and it’s very difficult to watch him be in agony.”
Tara also thanked everyone who has prayed for her husband, explaining he still “has a long way to go” and asked others to keep Josh on their hearts and minds and continue to lift him up in prayer.
“He means a lot to so many people and this world needs him desperately,” she continued.
Wheeker, described on his website as “an exciting lyric tenor in the opera world,” is a graduate of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist program of the LA Opera and received his Bachelor’s of Music from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music. He hails from Dayton, Ohio.