July 29, 2013 at 10:51 AM ET
A 6-year-old Indiana boy who was swallowed up by a sand dune after falling into a sinkhole is back home after spending two weeks in the hospital recovering from the ordeal.
Nathan Woessner was with his father and friends at Indian Dunes National Lakeshore Park on July 12. He had been climbing the park’s tallest sand dune, the 126-foot tall Mount Baldy, when he suddenly disappeared after getting sucked into a sinkhole.
Several dozen rescue workers spent more than three hours digging for the boy until they finally spotted his head. Authorities say Nathan appeared to have sunk straight down, possibly creating an air pocket that helped him survive.
He was taken to a Chicago hospital and, while he continues to receive rehabilitative therapy, he was expected to make a full recovery, according to a website set up to help cover his medical costs.
Back home, Nathan was captured on home video shooting hoops outside and at the dining table with siblings. Asked about the best part about being home, he replied with a huge grin: “To get to see my family."
Nathan initially emerged unresponsive from the sand dune and spent his initial days in critical condition as doctors worked to flush sand out of his lungs. That's what makes his nearly-full recovery almost miraculous, his parents and doctors have said.
"Greg and I would like to first and foremost thank God for hearing and answering our prayers," Nathan's parents, Greg and Faith Woessner, said in a statement. "He has given us a miracle that we will treasure for the rest of our lives."
They thanked everyone who was involved in rescuing the boy, including the medical team that treated him. "We find it so hard to adequately express our gratitude for all you did for him and us. Lastly we would like to thank everyone that prayed for Nathan and our family," they said in the statement. "We fully believe that your prayers are the reason that Nathan is here with us today. There is real power in prayer and your prayers brought hope to a hopeless situation. God will always hear your prayers so don't ever stop praying or trusting in Him."