Lightning strike kills U nursing grad

Hayley Odom

Amy Wenger died doing what she loved.

Wenger, who recently received her master’s degree from the University’s School of Nursing, died Aug. 2 at Wisconsin Badger Camp, near Prairie du Chien, Wis., when she was struck by lightning delivering medication to campers. She was 28.

Wenger, a volunteer staff member, was struck during a morning storm and was transported to a local hospital where she died, said Brent Bowers, the camp’s executive director.

She would have taken a job with the University of Virginia’s hematology and oncology pediatrics program in September.

Family members, friends and faculty said they will remember Wenger’s dimpled smile, her love of swing music, Coca-Cola and M & Ms, and her consistently positive attitude, despite the emotional challenges of working with ill children.

She was a registered nurse at Fairview University Children’s Hospital pediatric oncology unit.

“She loved kids and took to heart very much the terrible stresses and pressures of children who are sick and their families,” said Angie Carlson, Wenger’s aunt and a clinical assistant professor in the University’s College of Pharmacy.

Wenger continuously advocated for her patients, especially those who had a difficult time voicing their needs, said Hans-Peter de Ruiter, her nurse manager.

“She was a very committed nurse and went way beyond her professional commitment,” he said.

Wenger began working at Wisconsin Badger Camp as a counselor in 1995 and continued to volunteer at the camp each summer after she received her nursing degree.

“She was so dedicated to our mission of providing additional opportunities for adults and children with disabilities,” Bowers said. “She always showed up at the most opportune times, when we were in dire need.”

Carlson said Wenger was eagerly awaiting the results of her certification to become a licensed pediatric nurse practitioner. When Carlson went to Wenger’s apartment to gather some things last week, she found the results in the mail. Wenger had passed the certification process.

“I was going to drive her to the airport on Saturday. She was ready to make the move (to Virginia),” Carlson said. “She was very excited about her job.”

Wenger was born in 1975 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and received her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

Amy is survived by her father and mother, Jan and Mary Wenger; her brother Jason and his wife Gretchen; her sister Sara; her nephew Jacob and aunts and uncles.

A memorial for Wenger will take place on Thursday, Aug. 19 from noon to 2 p.m. in room 450 of the Cancer Center Research Building.