Bouncing Truck Brings Nathan Woessner Back, Greg and Faith Woessner, parents of 6-year-old Nathan Woessner, who was rescued after 3 and a half hours under 11 feet of sand on Mount Baldy July 12, gave a national interview to the “Today” show which was broadcast on Monday.
The Woessners expressed their gratitude for the rescue efforts from emergency responders that resulted in Nathan’s rescue. They recounted how the incident began at about 4:30 p.m. July 12, when Nathan was following his father and an 8-year-old friend named Colin up Mount Baldy. Nathan disappeared into a hole that was about 12 inches in circumference near the top of the Mount Baldy dune.
Greg Woessner told the “Today” show that the family was just doing all the fun things that come with camping when the incident occurred. “I remember Colin (Nathan’s friend) yelling … screaming that Nathan fell in a hole,” Nathan’s father told the “Today” show. “From there, utter chaos.”
Some of the initial responders to the scene, including Michigan City police officers, described the parents screaming to make sure no one collapsed the hole that Nathan disappeared into, and frantically digging another hole with their hands at an angle to try to reach the boy. Nathan disappeared under the sand and dozens of emergency responders and park service personnel worked feverishly to save him.
“I just had such panic and fear and desperation to get to him,’’ Faith Woessner told the “Today” show. “I remember watching the backhoe digging and they were soaked in sweat and covered in sand and they were just digging.”
The couple watched as excavation equipment was brought in and Michigan City firefighters, police officers and others dug with shovels, and at times their hands. It is estimated the rescuers moved as much as 400 tons of sand trying to locate the boy.
Emergency responders found Nathan at 8:05 p.m., after conducting a grid search of what had become a large pit, and poking within the grid with a pole to find the boy. He was found upright in the sand, although he appeared seemingly lifeless to rescuers, who moved him to a lifeguard rescue truck to be taken to an ambulance.
In the back of the truck, Nathan gasped for air, and was put on oxygen, and by the time he was in the ambulance, was showing vital signs. After treatment at Franciscan St. Anthony Health, he was airlifted to University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, where doctors placed Nathan on a ventilator and worked to remove the sand from his lungs.
Nathan was listed in critical condition then, but progressed steadily until his ventilator and breathing tube were removed last Wednesday. He has received continued treatment to remove sand from his lungs, and by Monday, was listed in good condition, according to hospital officials, who added that the boy has returned to a regular diet and is being allowed to leave his room and go to a playroom if he wishes.
According to his attending physician, Dr. Rachel Wolfson, Nathan’s recovery could be “one for the record books.”
“Whether you want to call it a miracle or just the best luck in the entire world, the holes in the Swiss cheese lined up just right for this kid,” Wolfson told the “Today” show.
“We are extremely thankful, not just for his survival, but for everybody who had a role in this,” Greg Woessner said.
“We can’t express our gratitude enough for the rescuers, and the nursing staff and everyone that’s helped bring Nathan back to us, and we’re thankful to God for being there with us and bringing Nathan back to us,” Faith added.