Doctor: Boy buried in sand dune shows improvement

2013-07-18T13:15:00Z 2013-07-19T11:49:16Z Doctor: Boy buried in sand dune shows improvementJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

MICHIGAN CITY | The condition of the Illinois boy who was buried beneath a sand dune last week has improved, according to his doctors.

"Nathan Woessner has been upgraded from critical and is now in serious condition," said Dr. Rachel Wolfson, of The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital, in a statement released Thursday afternoon. "He has been extubated, is recovering from sedation and continues to respond to commands.”

The collapse of a portion of Mount Baldy nearly a week ago remains a mystery and still has geologists from across the nation scratching their heads.

Bruce Rowe, a ranger at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, said reports from staff members at a meeting Thursday morning offered no revelations.

Rowe said staff talked to experts in the Geological Resource Division of the National Park Service and geologists from various universities who specialize in the Great Lakes coastal region.

"Even the experts we went to are stumped," he said.

It has been nearly a week since the sand dune opened up and swallowed 6-year-old Woessner, of Sterling, Ill. He was buried in 11 feet of sand for more than three hours July 12 before rescuers found him.

The next step is to bring in equipment to conduct two levels of study on the area, Rowe said.

First, a conductivity survey of all 43 acres of the face of Mount Baldy will be conducted. That equipment has the ability to find anomalies below the surface of the sand. Then, when those anomalies are found, ground penetrating radar will be brought in to investigate the areas further.

Rowe said it could be a couple of weeks before the equipment is brought in.

Until then, the Mount Baldy area will remain closed to visitors. Rowe said National Lakeshore employees will install more closure signs on the beach side of the dune to advise people to stay off.

Park employees also are putting together a safety protocol for staff members or researchers in the area. Until that is completed, staff is also banned from the area.

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