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Country Thunder lightning strike victim's remarkable recovery continues: 'I check the weather a lot'

Posted at 10:15 PM, Sep 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-12 16:06:21-04


KENOSHA COUNTY -- It's been almost two months since lightning hit a young woman named Brittney Prehn at the Country Thunder Music Festival in Kenosha County. You may remember hearing about it back in July. She's doing better now and shared her story for the first time with our Susan Kim.

Brittney Prehn says she's amazed to be standing today.

We met her on the grounds of the Country Thunder Music Festival, her first time back since her life changed forever in July. She's only 22 years old.

Prehn said that "coming here, felt a little weird, nervous because I didn't know how I would react. But it didn't phase me. I checked the weather a bunch, but I wasn't too nervous."

Prehn checks the weather a lot now, ever since the night of July 20th. She was on the phone at the time, trying to find her friends. She told me that doctors say the phone helped save her life.

"I got directly hit but the phone took part of the hit and that's why my phone got thrown and there are two holes in the ground."

Brittney doesn't remember getting hit by lightning, only waking up in the hospital. 

The lightning hit the right side of Brittney's head, traveled through her body and exited through her right foot. She was in the intensive care unit for about a week, suffering from fractures to her head, bleeding in her brain, burns and injuries that left her without hearing in her right ear. She has partial hearing in her left ear, which she cups to hear better. Brittney also has paralysis on the right side of her face and pain in her hips that make it difficult to walk.

She says "you'll see me stomp my foot because I will feel electricity shoot down my foot."

Her right eye also doesn't close all the way she says because her "nerves are still not connecting." 

After two surgeries, Brittney is in physical and speech therapy four times a week. Her mom, Lisa, is on leave from her job as a school bus driver to care for Brittney.

Lisa says that "from the time she woke up, she's been a trooper" and doctors are amazed by her progress. "We're told repeatedly that she's a walking, talking miracle."

For as far as she has come, Brittney has a lot of healing to do.

"She looks great on the outside, but on the inside, is still swollen," said Lisa.

The ordeal has changed Brittney's outlook on life. She told Susan that she sees "people walk around all upset and miserable. You're alive. You're here. You can hear. You can walk. You can see. I don't know. One day, you could get hit by lightning and your whole world can be changed."

One year from now, Brittney's goal is to be back in college, studying to become a special education teacher. She also plans to return to Country Thunder next summer because she doesn't want her injuries to stop her from going to something she loves.

Her mom's co-workers are planning a fundraiser to help with medical bills that are increasing. The fundraiser is on Saturday at Niko's Red Mill Tavern in her hometown of Woodstock, Ill. It's from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. There will be live music and raffles. 

The family also set up a GoFundMe page to help pay those bills.