Did you catch the news reports last week of the young boy who survived after being submerged 15-20 minutes underwater? For those readers who missed it, here’s a quick summary:
According to The Seattle Times, 12-year-old Charles “Dale” Ostrander was enjoying last Friday afternoon with his sisters and others from his Baptist church group at Washington State’s Long Beach Peninsula.
Long Beach is known for its rip currents and Dale, who does not swim, was swept far out into the cold surf and began yelling for help. Twelve-year-old Nicole Kissel and her father quickly came to the rescue. Her father went to the aid of another distressed member of the group while Nicole swam to Dale and held him on her boogie board for an estimated 20 minutes!
As the two 12-year-olds worked to paddle to shore in the turbulent waters, many were said to be praying for them on the beach. A big wave eventually knocked Dale off the board and separated the two. Nicole’s father was able to reach her and helped her to the beach, but Dale was nowhere to be seen. After 15-20 minutes, rescuers eventually found his limp body and brought it ashore. Despite having no vital signs, Dale recovered.
On her way home to California last Wednesday, Nicole stopped to visit him in the hospital, where he is now considered in fair condition. As she left, Dale is said to have focused his eyes on her and said, “Thank you.”
I love this story: Dale’s gratitude and determination to survive, Nicole’s selfless courage, the keen sight of rescue team member Eddie Mendez (who spotted Dale floating beneath the seaweed), and the diligence of all the other rescuers who refused to give up on him.
Damian Mulinix was on the scene and noted, “Literally, he was dead for 20 minutes, half an hour probably.” Yet, everyone persisted in doing what they could. I think it speaks to the value of a hopeful mindset in the face of apparent tragedy.
I am especially drawn to the courage of Nicole Kissel. She says that at the moment of decision, she didn’t hesitate. And although while hanging on to her boogie board she felt she and Dale were unlikely to survive, afterwards she said, “No matter who it is and if they need help, I will risk my life, I will do it.”
Many online writers have been questioning the reason Dale survived this experience. Some suggest the frigid water, his young age, and the heroics of local rescuers are alone due the credit. Many others believe prayer was instrumental in his rescue and recovery, but of course prayer does not lend itself to be easily measured. Despite the lack of scientific data, according to a 2007 study by the National Institutes of Health, nearly half of all American adults pray for their health.
I believe the best evidence is usually one’s own experience. To those on the beach that Friday afternoon, I’m sure they consider their prayers were answered.