Fisherman calls 911 after being struck by lightning

'You lost your fingers?'

PONCE INLET, Fla. – It's a long road to recovery for 55-year-old James Church, who was released from the hospital on Monday after he was struck by lightning on the Ponce Inlet Jetty.

A calm and collected Church called 911, just seconds after lightning struck his fishing pole last Saturday morning.

"I said, 'I'm not going to die this way,'" Church said.

The avid fisherman described what the bolt did to his body and fingers.

911: "You lost your fingers?"

Caller: "Yes, ma'am. I can barely dial. I'm OK."

During the 13-minute call, the dispatcher reassured Church that help was on the way.

911: "I can hear them coming now but I want to make sure they find you, OK?"

Caller: "OK. They'll find me. I'm the only crazy person out here."

Church suffered severe injuries and needed four surgeries. His family believes his neoprene waders helped save his life during the rough weather conditions.

"He'd probably be out here seven days a week if his schedule would allow," said Jeffrey Myer.

Myer is friends with Church and said he shouldn't have been out fishing in the rough weather but is just glad his fishing buddy will be OK.

"I hope you get well soon, and I look forward to seeing you on the jetty soon," Myer said.

The family also created a GoFundMe account to help with medical bills. The link is available here:

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