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Man who was dead for 20 minutes after being electrocuted shares his survival story

Doctors say it was "a miracle" that Michael Pruitt, 20, survived after he was without a pulse for 20 minutes after being electrocuted. "Everything just shut off," Pruitt tells TODAY.
/ Source: TODAY

Michael Pruitt had no pulse for 20 minutes after he was electrocuted while holding a ladder on a job site three months ago.

The 20-year-old from Taylor, Michigan, shared his story of survival on TODAY Thursday along with the reason he believes he is still alive, even after doctors at the local hospital said he was dead when he arrived.

"I think I woke up that day because I just feel like it really wasn't my time to go because I'm destined to do greater things and help people,'' Pruitt said.

"I've always told everyone I'm going to be a superhero one day, and then this happens. And I tell everyone, 'Yup, every superhero needs a good death.'''

Dr. Angela Chudler, an emergency medicine physician at Beaumont Hospital who treated Pruitt, has rarely seen anyone without a pulse as long as Pruitt who ended up surviving with full brain function.

"I definitely would call it a miracle,'' she told TODAY.

Pruitt was working with his stepfather, Keith Jacokes, at a residential construction job in Livonia on April 30 when a bolt of electricity went from a power line into the ladder Pruitt was holding.

"It was like a tase, but just so much more electricity and that's when everything just shut off,'' Pruitt said.

They were working at the home of Katelyn Vines, who is a nurse.

"All of a sudden it sounded like a transformer blew in my backyard, so I ran outside and he was on the ground,'' Vines told TODAY. "He was foaming at the mouth, so we turned him over and we started CPR."

"Luckily he went down at a nurse's home because the CPR ... right away his heart was pumped, circulation was going through his body, through his brain, and without that you have no oxygen to your tissues, and he would've never been who he is today," Chudler said.

Michael Pruitt says everything in his body "shut off" after he was electrocuted on a job site three months ago. TODAY

Pruitt was rushed by ambulance to Beaumont Hospital in Farmington Hills.

"He had no vital signs,'' Chudler said. "So we had this young boy who's dead coming in."

His mother was at work when she got the call about her son.

"I think it's every parent's worst nightmare,'' Jillian Pruitt told TODAY. "I don't think you ever want that call that there's something wrong with your child."

Doctors fought to keep him alive after Chudler estimated he was without a pulse for about 20 minutes because EMTs were unable to revive him

"He's got a little bit of fibrillation to his heart so now you're just thinking, 'I gotta bring this guy back,''' Chudler said. "We got our defibrillator on and turned it up and shocked him, and continued CPR for a few seconds and then kind of felt for a pulse. Then I'm like, 'Wait a minute, I think we've got a pulse.'''

Pruitt remembers waking up in the hospital bed and trying to rip off all the tubes connected to him.

"It took like six or seven people to hold me down,'' he said. "I was just still going at it. And the doctors were saying how happy they were because (if) he's putting up this much of a fight, he's got to be still there."

Pruitt returned to the hospital in June to thank the staff for everything they did to save him.

"Every week, there's probably a couple people we do bring back, but to go from completely dead, no heartbeat, to fully functioning, is very rare,'' Chudler said. "I mean, it's really, really rare."

He still has the sneakers he was wearing when he was electrocuted, which have tiny pin-sized holes in the front from where the current exited his feet. The jolts also left black burn marks on the inside of each big toe.

"I still wear these shoes,'' he said. "You know they have to be good shoes if you die in them and still can wear them."