Sand Dune Rescue: Hospital Details 6-Year-Old's Condition

Nathan Woessner close to breathing without assistance, long-term effects unknown.
33:25 | 07/15/13

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Sand Dune Rescue: Hospital Details 6-Year-Old's Condition
This is this special report from ABC news. And -- that -- orbit and ABC news digital special report buried in the sand and stuck for three hours a six year old boy trapped underneath 24 feet of sand is recovering. At commerce Children's Hospital in Chicago -- waste there has been in critical condition and the hospital is holding a press conference now -- the latest on this edition let's listen -- -- concerned us. At which point he was singing -- a local hospital in Indian. Where they had -- his initial stabilization before he was transferred here. You can't witch's hour. Helicopter service to our own emergency room where we did initial. Evaluation of him and he came to the period where -- that we can't. Nathan's injuries that we know about are mostly his lines. His initial neurological exam answer Schwartz has actually been remarkably -- -- And we expect. For cover a full recovery -- close to a full recovery of his neurological function. Com and his lungs are moderately sick at this point for an icu patient and I actually expect him to recover and be -- office and later. Can -- to go home eventually. What we're expecting. Probably tell the families -- that we need to do some additional testing. His brain and so forth we need to. Continue to. Look at his -- we've been doing -- -- cost -- To try to get the -- as well as -- inflammation that occurs. From the lines because they've got -- body. The saint. But if he continues to recover the rate here -- we expect him to be -- then later this week. Perhaps out. This hospital and ten to fourteen days. -- one week to probably a month in rehab depending on what everything looks like once we get him. It is -- to go out and see what it looks like. And then hopefully home. We have told the family were not sure what his long term lung. Injury is going to be. What has fundamentally at least what I think -- look up over the weekend this is case report material. And Oliver reports that we've seen thus far really just talk about the patient in the intensive care unit and whether they survivors don't survive. And we know that when you have foreign bodies new -- -- -- -- -- enhance chronic changes. Can have some -- response to that. We absolutely don't think we can get every -- have -- out of his lines. -- -- -- -- We all understand we go to the beach and we've seen things that we -- and six months later. And fortunately we believe he's currently have seen in his long six months later -- well. But we are washing out as much at the scene as we can't -- that -- -- -- -- Questions. Up -- -- -- is. Are in T surgeons. Were -- colleges ten. Take us so. Down into the lungs through his breathing tube -- this tape. This saline salt water and flush out the area and actually have a section. The special suction catheter that they can retrieve. Anything could stay on in his long passages. -- Sand but more importantly. Your lines create. Mucus to try to fight off. The foreign body just like your notes does so it's just trying to get this. And can you get some information and material out. -- -- Really would be guessing at this point -- -- think most likely it could be asthma they could be asthma like -- may have squeezing. Com. But -- it is really completely unclear at this point he may be completely normal and that's what we hope. It may be a mild asthma. I think there's a small chance that he might have something more severe but at this point I think this is really case materials man. I'm not a volcanologist they've made it better but it I think we're just gonna have to latency. But his lung injury is not nearly as severe and this I expected it to be and it has not gotten. More secure over the last couple of days it's actually gotten better. So I'm hoping that he has a full recovery has. So he is there risk of infection. I actually the -- the other. Issue with foreign bodies is that your. Your body tries to to just fight it off. And that can lead to an allergic reaction and can lead to an autoimmune reaction. Which means -- is your body starts to fight off that foreign body may actually -- -- End -- fighting itself song. And cause squeezing because. Just the inability to take a deep breath and pain and have normal breathing. In the future and it's just really hard to tell. What if anything will happen. And I have not seen reports that still wet. The survivors of this look like at six to twelve months for several years now. He was not. We're expecting him today. Bias he. I've heard different reports that he either -- moment. He actually I don't believe got into -- until he got to the outside hospital so he was. He was -- at some level on his own before. He was. Down -- I believe he had to have an air pocket down there. And because that's the only way that -- in the case. So I expected him to arrive much sicker. Then he did and since he didn't arrive sick I actually expected the first -- for hours to networks and he really did not -- either. So. Because of his lung injury -- -- trying to keep him. So dated with medication and intermittently we have -- had to give him medicine to paralyze him. So we actually don't want him away and following audiences have -- When he first came -- the icu we. Briefly turned off his sedation so that we could see -- how active he was and at that time he was. Completely appropriate time. Trying to pull teams out. Which we clearly don't want them to do but he was really acting like a very purposeful six year old. And then we have put him under sedation at this point. On the living everything. He is still. When he is lightly sedate -- still responding to anything that maybe painful or responding to touch. And so those are all things team needed indicate -- -- a six year old felicity every now and his brain is functioning normally. We have -- cat scans that looked normal at this point. There will be additional testing that will occur. Over the next couple of days. An MRI which we'll get a little bit more detail. And then the biggest things just waking him up. See how he -- us but all of our indications is this is brain function as normal anytime. There's been a trauma I always tell families that sometimes there can be some. Minor brain injury that. We may not even pick up in the -- maybe something I think it. That greatest challenges it is us. Getting the breeding team is is have is having his lungs get to a point that we can't take the breathing tube out. And this. It and and I expect that we will be able to do that over the next couple of days. And then. If his feet he wakes up and -- normally is I believe he's going to I think. The biggest thing moving forward is just watching his lung function. And theoretically if it's an -- immune response -- -- -- For a response to. An allergic response it may take six months to a year for us to even see it so I think it's going to be unknown for the family moving forward. About his lung function because he was clearly an active. Hawaii and I wish you know my family wants him to return to that instantly. Yeah. So at this point we don't see sand from -- going down. We've been able to get down to the the major Airways. After the MRI today we hope it's. We can clear his. Spinal column and -- his collar off and then. The criminologist hoped to go deeper down but we don't see we don't see any stand against and -- for small. We're still getting seen from other parts of his body off every single day so I'm sure that he still has -- -- And -- I'm just -- -- -- this another question that has been asked about his eyes. The ophthalmologists. Watch out his eyes when he came in. Hands. And say look normal and don't look like they have any significant injuries again that's going to be something we will have said. Completely determine once he's awake and tell us -- disease but the ophthalmologists. Are not concerned about his eyes right now which again this time my guesses he. Probably closed his eyes while he was underground. -- We need to complete at least one more front costs. We anticipate if his -- continue to get better -- that they've been getting better will be by the end of the week. The problem with the lung injury is that -- singing and there's your body responds to find bodies in your long and so. -- lungs are creating. What we come UPS but -- Fluids in the lungs to try to combat the foreign body and that. Protects the lungs but at the same time it causes. It to be harder to breathe similar to an ammonia. Except for this is much more diffuse. And in his lung injury. From NIC's. His ventilator settings are moderate they are clearly. Not high ventilator settings that we sometimes see with children and they're not quite at the point that we are ready to take the breathing tube out we -- actually close. But we do want to do at least one more front prosecutor we can go deeper into his lungs and make sure that we don't have and try to get as much stand out as we can't. We clearly don't have all the sand out because. Standings -- and I'm sure that we left. Some. -- here because you just can't get stands out. I'm. On the ventilator he's equivalent to sick. Pneumonia patient. If he were breathing on his own he woods. We would college shortness of breath he would probably be trying to breathe very fast as he would be able to get enough oxygen. To his lines. And it's because the new cases is blocking me. Air from getting into the parks -- very -- freer exchange oxygen. But he's equivalent to a moderate and ammonia and intensive care unit. From a ventilator standpoint. His X ray looks different than what -- -- were classically look like. Hands. It is he's he has always been on ventilator settings -- we tell families that we expect them to patients to get better get off the ventilator and not. Necessarily have long term issues -- that we recognize any any child that is on a ventilator for any period of time prolonging treatment have some chronic long term. -- -- -- Yes. And at some point he will remember this probably. Immediately in the icu he may or may not remember this that yes -- will probably need some psychological therapy he has a very supportive family. And some children are very resilient and so. He probably will get some therapy that will be part of what they start to work on in -- rehab setting. And it's. Maybe it is miraculous what children his age can go through -- Not have their trauma that we sometimes expect them to have but he will clearly. Be in contact twist. Psychological therapists. Through. -- -- His his family. Is clearly cares for him as well. I hope she is back out. Acting like kind. Forgetting exactly when his birthday is but I'm hoping that he's going to be acting like any normal six to seven year old. Riding a bicycle. Doing my normal six or seven year old -- us. Okay this. He is actually doing very well. He is improving every single day we hope to have the breathing tube out. By the end of the week and I would hope that he would possibly be out of this hospital -- ten to fourteen days. And so. Now I was talking about how the family has been so supportive and I like to introduce you to his grandfather. John -- to actually remembers motorcycle fifteen hours to get here after he heard about the accident but. Because he his wife for a vacation. So I'm going to turn it over to him so that he can update you all about the -- -- -- -- The family would like you. The family would like to express. It's thanks to everyone involved. For everyone out there at Michigan City. That helped in the rescue all the first responders out there that people -- brought in the heavy equipment and people. Over the ambulance the hospital. Crew that flew. Nathan over here. To. This hospital. And we are especially thankful for the people. Here they are doing an outstanding job and taking care of Nathan and so we just want to say thank you. Each and every one of those -- We are very appreciative of all the prayers and support. That has given to our family. It is deeply appreciate it. They were they've gone over to enjoy. A little bit of vacation time. My my daughter's hand. The son in law. And their children and they were -- -- another. Family from in the church that they attend over there. But so they got over there and -- they. Unpacked from things and -- some sort of have a good time in the end. They're two guys. Making keys Greg -- my son in law. Decided that they were gonna go up on top. -- all the -- they're just didn't flip around and is six sandy you know that you do things to do -- -- -- and so. The two guys -- started up the hill and the two boys. Nathan and Collins. Were right behind the dead that they were going up they were do you know headed up to the top of the hill. And part of the way. Nathan -- In a sinkhole and disappeared out of sight. And Colin come. Hollering to gradient and Indian chief. Nathan was gone. And is live immediately went back and he would not know -- They grounded swallowed him up. And great good here they know. And Nathan was where it was -- out and they give me here in an integrated petroleum. May still make -- -- move. And they've clinically begins to kids -- the -- miles head down. But as and they -- he. -- deeper and deeper and so they were. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- probably -- had their hands -- today with them and in the short while other people join -- there as they were. But he ended traded as -- dig down to him by the time. The part people got there they had dug a hole it was. So were between four and five feet deep. And still good good -- -- nation. -- -- -- -- You're just you're just swallowing -- You guys -- -- ran right by -- they didn't see any thing. And they did just stepped on the spot. Swallowed him up one of the first one of the guys with a heavy equipment out there. Said that. Nathan went down. Stay and ensure data. He who have fallen on his background his -- he was in an upright position insists it -- And. By the time that they were here there with a shovel them and there and and -- helped start -- -- they had dug a hole that was. Five feet and the formal. By hand. Very -- Realizing the gravity of the situation of someone needs debris plus a crushing weight of sand you know. -- and so. Blood. Pleadings and prayers. I am I -- firmly convinced. God intervened in this. A man that's a new business it gives the city as a -- -- threw a lot of hospitals. You funeral. And comfort the sick the dying. And so when I see something. Like this. -- read the scriptures I get to see. You know in the pages of the Bible we read about all the miracles. That it is it's exhilarating to read about those movies of the Bible. But this one came home. The end of the day we were up and cut -- Rogan New York when we got to do with the -- -- you're just going through there and under our bikes and other older couple of the church and and my wife and and and so we ended up there. We've we've gone out got a bite he would just come back remote -- get -- go to bed in the phone rang and it was my daughter. And she was hysterical and she's -- -- dead. We can't find anything. -- -- is he is. Under the same. And at that point she was so hysterical -- called. Again. Piece it together that. He was in this say and do they were down by the water's edge and he would step in the water and in the -- pulled him under. Tried -- controller. You know do the best way I knew -- And you know. We thought -- was the for so. Hold up the phone in turned to my wife and -- it is bad news. And -- -- is. Has died he founded. And so my wife at that point. Did not handle it very well. And we both begin. -- please. Put down the hall after a few minutes of cried together and I knocked on the door and I told the couple that we live in -- -- -- -- said. We've had a tragedy -- -- program that we -- we have to roll. And as we work. Trying to get ourselves ready to go by. You -- Jamie and then that they had found you. Stand. They said they were taken -- to the hospital. Smith said to my wife -- said. They're taken into the hospital. Simpson so so that might be good. And what happened. Here is they -- it took Reagan -- To the police station they didn't they weren't there on the scene -- -- -- was. And when they found -- he was he was cold and lifeless and the coroner was there. But when -- let me. When they picked -- -- -- -- cut on his face. It has started to -- -- and lifted. He's he's got a heartbeat. -- please -- they started the process to bring just do the work we are. So. -- begins. You know bubble up and are grimly that you know. -- not gone. And you know. -- -- Degraded thanks that they got for what was going the and so. Went to the front desk of the at the motel and I that I need the give my wife on an airplane. President of you know we're the closest airport -- -- for more whereas it was down in Albany which was. Two and -- half hours from where we were at. And so. We we we booked as quick as we good. 1:30 in the morning. We've got -- motorcycles appointed himself towards Albany. And I got my -- and and Anderson. Played and they hinted that back in this direction. And in doing. Of them motorcycles and pointed him back in the westerly direction. The -- we -- for about fifteen hours. -- and -- couple from the church. Two minutes. Then -- that drove. In their daughter Natalie and they knew -- They took the fight from Russia and brought us -- little. Well work for him when word no word where there. The division was -- And the watches the progress is being made. We. Fully expect. The -- our -- in that direction that he you'll be okay. We we believe that this guy did is cleared him for. Reason. And so we're we're very confident. That -- -- -- Give us back made them whole. And so -- there are committed to be with him the comfort one another. To be with a woman -- during this time is as the process goes. He was eleven feet under the ground. Greg told me that he was there they they had big -- That goes there he needs this. They were both. They had -- two -- 11. Copper and one more vivid you know. Just -- and he said there were eleven or twelve foot -- -- there were there were multiple expansion going into labor tranda. Bullets and bad and so wouldn't keep caving in around that area that they were -- -- and they were -- -- Wednesday. Also Warren in the digging and and we don't know power what or why. He got a cut on the back of his -- he's got Tony Stewart 43 staples and that -- He's got some abrasions on his face and cheek and forehead not his arms and but. He was down all right we'll. Tremendous amount of sand and the end. For a long time he was there for four hours before they days they. Extricated him and and get him -- -- news conference out of Chicago where that man is the grandfather six year old boy that was trapped Friday. For more than three hours in a sand here he is now in critical condition right doctors are -- removing Sanford has -- would that most of the injuries did suffer while he was trapped in his heart related specifically to his lungs and in fact the doctor earlier on this news conference at -- the brain function does appear to be normal like that he is still on a ventilator that -- -- and dated look but it appears that he is. Responding well to the treatment. I want to bring an ABC's Ryan -- on the phone now who has been covering the case news is covering this story. From Chicago and Ryan you spoke with the grandfather obviously very emotional and family to hear about this phone call and now this kind of see him responding pretty positively to this treatment. It really isn't sparkle and the grandfather is actually gave up just after I'm not sure he's that are not. He talked to us about how he's talked a lot about miracle. -- -- -- -- -- courier now he thinks he's seen one up close and personal. One other thing that's not really being talked -- -- too much news conference because that obviously about help. The little boy that everyone so concerned with little need then is how in the world he actually survive down there after being swallowed by all this man. Eleven -- now. We also spoke to be part -- has been charges of these -- department national art. And they're not really sure either since he was completely route buried alive by this -- but what they're speculating. -- that there was actually -- a piece of a rocket old tree. Or maybe begin tiger tree that was all the way down there. That the trunk -- now and created some sort of air art and unbelievable for me -- even think about it. That's really the only explanation that they have right now about how there might have been an air pocket and all of all of that span. -- -- to survive. And it we were just here at the top of that as the grandfather was speaking recounting what had happened on Friday that the family had. Gotten opposite the park in Indiana and back boys were out -- -- -- top of the sand -- and the that is when. Essentially it sounded like from the grandfather's account Nathan crime was swallowed up almost in a standing upright position. That's what he -- -- -- just disappear that he was swallowed by the earth our understanding it originally. Why is one of the best friend but he was -- another call the parent the you know something along the lines of oh my gosh -- and disappear. And they started digging for an amendment could be a little bit -- them ensuring that actual digging. -- the whole collapse even more innate and went further down at which point those terrified parents and their friends -- -- for them. -- could no longer -- and that plan may broaden obviously be so called professional rescuers do. At this -- and under the heavy equipment and three hours later. -- -- and as you heard remarkably he bought. It is. Remarkable as it is certainly an understatement ABC's Brian -- on the Holocaust from Chicago Brian thankful for that you know of course we're gonna continue monitoring in the news conference on of Chicago where six year old Nathan is making a recovery after being rescued. From Friday being -- eleven feet very. And sands -- For three and a half hours were the director of the pediatric intensive care unit at the University of Chicago medicine -- children's hospice that Nathan is in critical condition. That he is -- responding to treatment that doctors are removing. Sand from his lungs and that his lungs appear to -- the most is one area that is been suffering from injury from exists that brain function does appear to be normal and they just and -- them. He is on a ventilator. And as Pennsylvania us inspect undergone treatment don't have a complete report. On On this famine that is clearly hoping and praying for the best -- for -- six year old is responding to treatment these guys are now on damp afternoon shortly witness ABC news digital special report. This has been a special report from me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"id":19669825,"title":"Sand Dune Rescue: Hospital Details 6-Year-Old's Condition","duration":"33:25","description":"Nathan Woessner close to breathing without assistance, long-term effects unknown.","url":"/US/video/sand-dune-rescue-hospital-details-year-olds-condition-19669825","section":"US","mediaType":"default"}