'I thought I knew what fear was': Marine vet saves daughter after lightning strike stops her heart

His daughter was playing outside on Oct. 15 when she was either hit by lightning or a strike occurred right next to her. Steve Jorgensen, a Marine veteran, acted fast and started CPR

PHOENIX - Steve Jorgensen never could've imagined a day when he needed to save his 12-year-old daughter after a lightning strike stopped her heart. 

Ella was playing outside on Oct. 15 when she was struck by lightning, or a lightning strike happened right next to her, Valleywise Health surgeon Dr. Kevin Foster told FOX 10 in Phoenix.

Jorgensen ran outside to check on his daughter, who had stopped breathing and whose heart had stopped beating.

"First thing I did was just start and hop into CPR and start doing those chest compressions," Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen received medical training in the Marine Corps from 2005 to 2013 and was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and Afghanistan in 2008.

Despite what he’s seen on the battlefield, nothing compares to seeing his little girl in trouble.

"At that point, I thought I knew what fear was, and I thought I knew what scared was – all the way up until that moment, watching my daughter get struck, that completely redefined everything," he said.

Jorgensen then brought his daughter to the hospital, where she was treated for burns in her chest, lungs and throat, along with a burn running between her sternum and thighs.

According to Jorgensen, the hospital staff were shocked and amazed that Ella’s injuries weren’t worse, given how severe lightning strike injuries usually are.

"I think the instrumental thing in saving her was that her father recognized that her heart had stopped, and he was able to do effective CPR and get her heart started again, and that literally saved her life," Dr. Foster said.

Ella initially wasn’t able to recall what happened that fateful day. The only thing she could remember was the sight of her necklace breaking apart when the lightning struck.

Now that nearly a week has passed, her memories and strength are beginning to return. According to Jorgensen, Ella is quite excited about her story and looks forward to sharing it once her health is back.