Naperville man struck by lightning, critically injured in Panama City Beach, Florida

Joshua Wheeker is a well known opera singer, and his wife Tara is part of the Lyric Opera in Chicago

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Saturday, April 29, 2023
Naperville man struck by lightning, critically injured in Florida
Joshua Wheeker of Naperville, a well known opera singer who has performed around the country, was critically injured by a lightning strike in Florida.

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WLS) -- A 33-year-old Naperville man is in critical condition after being struck by lightning in Florida's Panama City Beach Thursday, local officials said.

Joshua Wheeker of Naperville was on the Panama City Beach Pier when he was struck.

"The storm kinda started rolling in, and they called everyone off of the pier, due to the lightning, and there was two men walking down the pier, and lightning struck the first time a little bit behind them, and missed, and they kind of hunkered down, and then, within about five or 10 seconds, the second one hit, and actually struck one of the men, and it was a pretty bad situation," witness Ethan Bryan said.

Wheeker was apparently on vacation at the time of the lightning strike, and apparently coming in from fishing on the pier.

Wheeker is a well-known opera singer who has performed in operas around the country. His agent describes him as a talented singer who is devoted to his family.

His wife Tara is also a singer, a soprano with the Lyric Opera Company in Chicago.

A bystander performed CPR until paramedics were able to bring Wheeker to a Panama City hospital in critical condition. A relative told ABC7 Friday that his condition is improving.

The relative said the family is very private and does not wish to talk about the incident further.

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The pier was closed until the severe weather passed.

Parts of the Florida panhandle are facing major clean-up after multiple tornadoes Thursday.

ABC News and CNN contributed to this report.