Boy swallowed by sandy sinkhole continues to improve

2013-07-22T17:45:00Z 2013-07-23T18:39:05Z Boy swallowed by sandy sinkhole continues to improveStaff and Wire Reports
July 22, 2013 5:45 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Six-year-old Nathan Woessner of Sterling, Ill, continues to improve 10 days after being rescued from beneath 11 feet of sand July 12 at the Mount Baldy area of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

In a statement released Monday by The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, officials said Nathan is in good condition and continues to improve.

"He returns to a regular diet today and can leave his room to visit the playroom," said Dr. Diana Mitchell in a written statement.

Nathan was buried for more than three hours in Mount Baldy before rescuers were able to reach him. He was breathing on his own when he first arrived at the hospital. Doctors said an air pocket in the dune could be the reason he survived.

He has since been at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital where his condition continues to steadily improve. On Friday, Nathan began eating for the first time.

Nathan's parents, Greg and Faith Woessner, appeared on the "Today Show" on Monday. His parents recounted the chaotic scene of rescuers trying to pull his son from the sinkhole.

"I just had such panic and fear and desperation to get to him," Faith Woessner said.

Greg Woessner told the "Today Show" he remembers frantically running toward his son.

"This sense of calmness held me tight just to focus on what we needed to do that day," he said on the program.

When the boy was intubated, two front teeth that had been loose were knocked out, according to his grandfather, Don Reul.

"We're saving them for him, and they're going to put them under his pillow at some point," Reul told The LaPorte Herald-Argus.

Nathan sustained scrapes on his face and a cut on his head that required more than 20 staples, and his each of his corneas was scratched from the sand, his grandfather said.

"The ophthalmologist has been in, and they don't see anything (serious). His motor skills are good so there doesn't seem to be any damage in that area," Reul said. "He's coming along at a rapid rate in his recovery, so we're just really happy about where things are and how they're progressing.

Since coming out of a coma and starting to speak to relatives, the boy has not mentioned his entrapment, the grandfather added.

"He hasn't had any recollection so far that he's told us about, and we're hoping that he has none," Reul said.

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