UPDATE Boy trapped in sand released from rehab - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE Boy trapped in sand released from rehab

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy of Michigan City News-Dispatch Courtesy of Michigan City News-Dispatch

Nathan Woessner, the 6-year-old boy who was buried in a sand dune for almost four hours, went to La Rabida Children’s Hospital on July 23, and was release Friday morning. Nathan’s attending physician, Michael Hobaugh said that he is doing very well.

Nathan received rehabilitative care at La Rabida, including physical, occupational and speech therapy. He has issues with balance, gait and memory. He will return to the rehab center at a later date to continue therapy.

He has been doing well and is able to bathe himself, brush his own teeth and walk independently. The family requests that their privacy be returned to them while they continue to care for their son.

Woessner, was discharged from the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital late Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Barrett Fromme with The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital said Tuesday that he was eating well, active, and continues to improve. The staples used to close a laceration on the back of his head will be removed [Tuesday}," said Dr. Fromme.


Like any other young boy, he's been very active for the past few days. On Tuesday, Nathan and his parents got an up close look at a medical helicopter.  He even go to sit in the front seat and put on a helmet.

On Monday, Nathan Woessner was moved back to regular food and was able to leave his room and visit the hospital play room.

On Friday Nathan was able to walk without assistance.  "On Friday afternoon, Nathan got out of bed and was able to walk with assistance, and he is eating for the first time. He remains in serious condition," said Wolfson.  His condition was upgraded to serious condition Thursday. 

"He has been extubated, is recovering from sedation and continues to respond to commands," said Dr. Rachel Wolfson in a written release on Thursday.

The boy was buried in eleven feet of sand for nearly four hours last week near Mount Baldy on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Michigan City.

Volunteer firefighter Ryan Miller spotted what looked like the outline of a rotten tree.  He says he pushed a fiberglass probe into the spot, feeling what he believed was Woessner.

Miller says Michigan City firefighter Brad Kreighbaum reached into the hole and felt the boy's head.  Within minutes, rescuers had pulled out Nathan, apparently just in time. Miller says whatever air pocket had kept the boy alive had collapsed by the time he was pulled from the sand.

Doctors warn that although he should recover neurologically, he may have ongoing lung problems.

"We absolutely think we can get every grain of sand out of his lungs, because sand is sand," said Dr. Tracy Koogler.  "And we all understand when we go to the beach and we get sand and things that we find sand six months later.   And unfortunately we believe he's probably going to have sand in lungs six months later, as well.  But, we are washing out as much of the sand as we can with the daily bronchoscopes."

Woessner is expected to be off a ventilator by the end of the week, and could be released from the hospital by the end of the month.

Original Story posted July 12:

The Michigan City News- Dispatch reported that the 6-year-old Illinois boy who was found alive after surviving 3 and a half hours under 11 feet of sand is "doing well" in recovery at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

The News Dispatch identifies the boy as Nathan Woessner of Sterling, Illinois.

Michigan City Fire Department Public Information Officer Mark Baker said he was told the child, who has not yet been identified, has no life threatening injuries and no brain injury from lack of oxygen.

Comer Children's Hospital spokeswoman Lorna Wong said Sunday Woessner is still in critical condition but his doctor says he is responding to commands.

She also included a statement from the boy's parents saying, "His parents want to extend their deepest thanks to the Michigan City fire and police departments and all the authorities, private companies and individuals who contributed to the rescue effort. They also ask that people include this little boy in their prayers."

The boy was found at 8:05pm CST after falling into a hole in the sand near Mount Baldy on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Michigan City. He was taken to Franciscan St. Anthony Health MC and then flown to a Chicago hospital for treatment. His condition hasn't been disclosed.

According to the News-Dispatch La Porte County Deputy Coroner Mark Huffman said the boy was breathing at the hospital and making noises while being treated by eight to ten emergency room personnel. Emergency responders said the boy had vital signs when he was rescued from the sand, but could not say whether he was conscious.

"He is alive," Huffman said, referring to the outcome as "a miracle."

"He isn't out of the woods yet, but ... they found him," he added. "It is totally amazing. They got him out and rushed him to the hospital."

He was found eleven feet down in the sand.

Officials said it appeared to have occurred in a restoration area that is blocked off from the public. The sand is being put back into the hole in which he was found.

The News-Dispatch reported that according to Rowe, the boy was with his family, who are believed to be from Illinois, at Mount Baldy when he fell into a hole in an area that was blocked off for dune restoration. The boy's family did not see him fall into the hole. When the family saw him, he was already partially submerged in the sand. They tried to extract the him from the hole, but he fell further inside and disappeared.

Family members and bystanders dug in the sand with their hands to try 
and reach the boy, but they could not reach him.

The emergency responders brought shovels and started digging, some by hand, in a frantic effort to try and save the boy. Progress was slow because the sides of the hole kept collapsing. Michigan City Police made the decision to contact D&M Excavating and Woodruff and SonsExcavating who brought backhoes to the scene. The first to arrive 
became stuck in the sand, but then returned, along with two others as the digging continued. When the boy was found, three backhoes were working at the scene.

Mt. Baldy will be closed through Sunday. Officials will evaluate the site and to find out what happened.

The Michigan City News-Dispatch and Associated Press contributed to this story.


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