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6-year-old Sterling boy buried alive meets men and women who rescued him

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A six-year-old boy from Sterling, Illinois has been in recovery for two months. He was buried under 11 feet of sand for more than three hours at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Wednesday, Nathan Woessner finally got to meet the rescuers who saved his life at two ceremonies in Michigan City. The first event was held by Indiana Governor Mike Pence at Michigan City City Hall. The second was held at the Blue Chip Casino.

Wearing dark blue, light blue, khaki and their own clothes, 139 men and women who worked using their hands, shovels, and bulldozers to save Nathan Woessner were recognized for saving his life.

On July 12, fire crews, EMTS, police officers, and many other organizations worked for more than three hours, digging for the six-year-old in 11 feet of sand.

“As time went on you start to wonder when does it become a recovery?” said Ronnie Martin, Michigan City Fire Chief.

A coroner was on the scene and when they finally got to Nathan,

“He was dead,” said Raymond Celebuki of the Michigan City Fire Department.

On his way to the hospital, his cheek was bleeding,

“There was blood, and then he gasped,” said Celebuki, who was there when Nathan showed his first signs of life.

“Immediately your heart just raced at that point you knew there was a chance and there was a spark of hope,” he added.

Chief Martin let all 139 people know who helped rescue him.

“At that time probably shouldn’t have but I went across the radio to let them know that there was some signs of life,” said Martin.

Woessner was rushed to St. Anthony in Michigan City and then to Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Now, less than two months later, many of the men and women who worked to save his life, gave the little boy a high five or a handshake.

And just as the Woessner’s are thankful for the men and women that rescued their son, those first responders that rescued Nathan are thankful for him.

“It’s probably one of the best things that ever happened in my life quite frankly,” said Celebuki.

“It has changed my life,” added Martin.

The Woessner’s had a chance to thank all of the first responders.

“It's such a good outcome and you can’t be sad with this outcome. We have to be joyful. We're so joyful and happy and we cried so much before ya know we had so many fears before he was rescued and I mean it’s so different. You can't cry about it although I do. It's a joyful thing,” said Faith Woessner, Nathan’s mom.

“If he can know in the future what he did for all those people. This is God’s miracle, we believe it with our heart, this is God’s miracle and we want Nathan to never forget that,” she said.

The Woessner’s say Nathan knows what happened to him, but does not remember. Nathan is back in school and is making a full recovery. A benefit to help the Woessner family with medical bills will be held at Rock River Christian Center in Rock Falls from 12 to 5 p.m.