August 10, 2011

‘Miracles’ in boy’s rescue from ocean

By Mike Baker and Jeff Barnard Associated Press
Rick Bowmer photo

Eddie Mendez, a member of a surf rescue team in Long Beach, looks over the surf Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011, in Long Beach, Wash. Mendez helped rescue a 12-year-old boy who was caught in a riptide north of Long Beach last Friday. Dale Ostrander was under water for up to 20 minutes, and is now hospitalized and conscious.
(Full-size photo)

How did he survive?
LOS ANGELES — The 12-year-old boy who was rescued after spending 20 minutes in the cold Pacific likely survived because of his age, among other factors, experts say.

Studies of near-drownings in cold water have found that survival depends on many factors including a person’s age, water temperature, time spent underwater and how fast CPR is given.

“He’s young and healthy,” said Dr. Mark Morocco, an emergency room doctor at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. “Your chances of surviving are better if you’re young.”

After people get over the initial shock of being plunged into cold water, they generally can survive for a certain period before getting exhausted or falling unconscious.

According to the National Weather Service, the water temperature at the time was around 56 degrees. People generally can survive in that water temperature for about half an hour before their muscles get weak and they lose strength. There’s also risk of hypothermia, which occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it, leading to a dangerously low body temperature.

LONG BEACH, Wash. — A 12-year-old boy found submerged in the Pacific Ocean surf after several minutes was released from intensive care Wednesday.

“I expected to say our goodbyes and so did my wife, and we were just prepared for that,” Chad Ostrander, father of Charles “Dale” Ostrander, told the AP. “He really surprised us.”

“There’s been several miracles just in the circumstances of finding him, the fact that he’s not dead, the fact that he can move, the fact that he can speak,” he said. “ Unbelievable.”

Dale was visiting the southwest Washington coast with members of his church youth group last Friday when he was caught in a riptide north of Long Beach, Wash.

Another 12-year-old, Nicole Kissel, was on a boogie board nearby, spotted Dale as he was struggling in the water and got onto her board — until a wave knocked the boy off, said her father, Shanon Kissel.

“When they pop back up, Nicole notices that Dale is not on the board. He is behind her. She turns around to face him like she’s gonna go back after him. I had to tell her to get back on the board. I’m yelling this while she’s still out 50 feet maybe 60 feet in front of me. She gets back on her board. I was able to get to her. We just come back together,” Shanon Kissel said.

It’s still not clear exactly how long Dale spent under the water. Rescuer Eddie Mendez said when he found Dale, the boy was floating about two feet under the surface. Based on witnesses and rescuers, the boy could have been in the water for 15 minutes.

When he was pulled out, he didn’t have a pulse. Medics started CPR. Finally, after Dale reached a nearby hospital, his pulse returned.

He was flown from the southwest Washington coast to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. On Sunday night, he opened his eyes as he was eased off sedatives.

On Monday, he said a handful of words to his parents. As they encouraged him to cough to clear his throat, he replied, “I don’t have to.”

Doctors had cautioned that even if Dale survived, he could have permanent brain damage.

But on Wednesday he was released from intensive care.

© Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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