Nathan Woessner, a 6-year-old boy from Sterling, Illinois, was swallowed by a sinkhole for more than three hours on July 12, 2013.
That was more than two weeks ago and on Sunday he was able to attend church with his family for the first time since his accident.
He’s been home since Friday, July 26 and his family says they are looking forward to just living life.
Life is a series of minutes, hours, and days; days that can be good and bad.
For the Woessner family, on this day, “We`re just happy, happy, happy, happy,” said Faith Woessner, Nathan’s mom.
Happy, because just 16 days ago, “Everything just happened so fast,” said Faith Woessner.
“Utter chaos,” said Greg Woessner, Nathan’s dad.
“I`m at the Mount 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. My husband and his dad are trying to dig him out,” said a family friend as she called 9-1-1.
“My mind was going 100 miles an hour. So many thoughts were going through my mind,” said Faith Woessner.
The Woessner’s were on a trip to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It was supposed to be a fun day, but in just seconds, everything changed when 6-year-old Nathan fell into a sinkhole.
“He stepped in it and he was gone,” said Don Ruel, Nathan’s grandfather.
For more than three hours, rescuers, using shovels and eventually machinery, worked to find him.
Nathan’s parents, waiting as each minute and hour passed.
“It was hard not to think about him being down in that hole and suffering and I couldn`t get to him, just it tore me up,” said Faith Woessner.
“He was down there for so long that I just didn`t think that he was gonna be alive,” said his brother Jake Ruel in an interview on July 21, 2013.
The coroner was on the scene. Nathan’s grandpa, on vacation when he heard the news, had already started grieving.
‘You`re in deep mourning wishing you could have some of him back again,” said Ruel.
But when rescuers finally got to Nathan, 11 feet down, they found him with a cut on his cheek and a heartbeat.
“We were sitting in a conference room and a paramedic came in and he said he`s alive and he said a whole bunch more after that, but I didn`t hear anything after that. All I remember was he`s alive,” said Faith Woessner.
He was rushed to St. Anthony’s and then transported to Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago. There were lots of prayers those first minutes, hours, days both at the hospital and at the First Baptist Church of Galva where Nathan’s grandpa is a pastor.
At the hospital, Nathan had procedures done to remove the sand from his eyes and lungs. There were scans of his brain and tests to see if he could move his hands and feet. But just nine days after the accident, Nathan’s grandpa was able to tell his congregation that Nathan would be coming home in a week.
Five days later, he was told he could go home, just two weeks after his accident.
His family says it is a miracle and to have him back like this, can only be the work of God.
“God completely 100% this was his miracle and there’s no doubt in my mind that God was with Nathan and God took care of Nathan and God brought Nathan back,” said Faith Woessner.
Giving him a second chance to live more minutes, hours, and days.
Nathan’s parents say he doesn’t remember what happened to him, something they are happy about. They are working on putting together all of the stories that have been done on Nathan, so that they can eventually tell him.