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Swallowed by a Sinkhole

Share This article -In just a few seconds, a carefree hiking trip on the sand dunes of mount baldy, indiana turned into a nightmare. Greg Woessner and his friend Keith walked along the top of the dune. Greg’s son Nathan and Keith’s son Collin were behind them.

“They were playing around, running around, up and down the hill,” remembers Greg. “We heard Collin screaming and hollering, that Nathan had fallen in a hole.”
“We quickly ran down there, and found the hole that he was in,” adds Keith. “And we were able to talk to him.”
Greg and Keith told Collin to run down the hill and call 911. Keith’s wife Rachel made the call.

Operator: “9-1-1.”
Rachel:  “Yes, I’m at the Mt. Baldy beach, and my friend’s son, he got stuck in
a sand dune and he’s like under the sand and we can’t get him out.”
Rachel: “My husband and his dad are trying to dig him out.”
Operator: “OK, we get it, we’ve got them on the way, OK?”
Rachel: “OK, thank you.”

 “He sounded so close,” says Greg. “You couldn’t see him. It was so dark. Keeping him calm was my first thing. He was saying he was scared.”

“I crawled down in the hole,” says Keith, “and Greg held my ankles, and I tried to reach for him, and couldn’t get him at all.”

Then the hole collapsed. Six-year-old Nathan was buried alive under 11 feet of sand.

“That’s when Faith made her way up the hill,” says Greg.

“They were telling me that Nathan was under there, and I just came apart,” remembers Faith. “I started crying, and praying, and digging. Everything else around me was such a blur. And I was having these visions in my head of him down there, and he’s got sand in his face and in his mouth, and he can’t breathe. And I remember begging God to just be with him, and to give him a pocket of air so that he could breathe, and to hold him, and to please be with him.”

Other vacationers and bystanders helped them dig by hand, but the giant dune was a relentless foe. Everyone kept digging, but the sand continued to cave in. Within 15 minutes, firefighters, police, and park rangers joined the effort. Their shovels helped, but they were still losing the battle. Finally, someone showed up with a backhoe.

“And it wasn’t until then did they really start moving a lot of sand,” says Greg. “But we’ve already, you got 40, 50 guys digging by hand for probably and hour and a half to two hours.

“We were fearing the worst,” says Faith. “We really were. We were still hoping, but it had been so long.”
The police persuaded Greg and Faith to take a break after three hours of nonstop digging. Their friend Keith kept on going.

“After about the 5th or 6th collapse, I pretty much exhausted myself, and I knew I had to stop or I wasn’t going to make it myself,” says Keith.

But the fight to rescue Nathan continued. They used long poles to probe the sand. If an area got the “all clear” sign, they would bring in the heavy equipment. Nearly four hours into the search, a local firefighter found him.

“They had already switched it from a “rescue” to a “recovery” by the time they found him,” says Faith. “The coroner was there, on site. They located his head, and then they switched from using shovels, and they were using their hands.”
“…and get right under his arm,” says Greg. “And from there, he was able to pull him right up out of the sand. It was a lifeless limp body, that he held like his son, and it just reminded him of his son.”

“They checked again, and he wasn’t breathing, and there wasn’t any pulse, so essentially at that time, he was not alive,” says Faith.

Nathan had a ¼ mile trip in the lifeguard truck to the ambulance, where he started to breathe again. He was taken to the medical center in Michigan City. His parents followed him to the ER, and all they could do was wait and pray.

“Then buddy came in, one of the EMTs,” says Faith, “And he sat down in front of me and said, ‘He’s alive.’ I remember turning to look at Greg and I said, ‘He heard us. He really heard us. He answered our prayers.’ I was so happy.”

They had to remove sand from his lungs and throat, and his head was injured during the digging. And Nathan had been deprived of oxygen to his brain for nearly four hours. Brain damage was a major concern, but doctors determined that Nathan was perfectly fine.

“His progress moved along so well, that Wednesday, they ended up taking out the breathing tube, and [he was] able to get a lot of the stuff out himself, as far as any of the debris and stuff in his lungs.”

Nathan doesn’t remember anything about the sinkhole that almost took his life. He doesn’t remember his amazing recovery. But he does know about God. When asked what his favorite Bible story is, he quickly thought of the story of David and Goliath.

“It’s my favorite story because he ‘fighted’ the giant, and I like it,” says Nathan, “Because he falls down to the ground, and he’s like a really big giant, and a little tiny kid.”

“This couldn’t be anything but a miracle,” says Faith. “This couldn’t by anything but God. There’s no way that you can take God out of this equation. He was buried in cold, wet sand for four hours. Everybody believed that he was gone. And God proved to everybody that he’s not. “I’m God. I can still do amazing things.” And he did.

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