Story Summary

Boy rescued after buried in 11 feet of sand

A young child was rescued after becoming buried in sand at the Indiana Dunes.

6-year-old Nathan Woessner of Sterling, Illinois was was buried under about 11 feet of sand for more than three hours at Mount Baldy at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

More than 30 people took part in the rescue effort after.

Nathan has been discharged from the hospital and is undergoing rehabilitative therapy.

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First responders who rescued a young boy from a collapsed sand dune in Indiana are honored Wednesday.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence paid tribute to them at Michigan City City Hall. About 500 people were on hand for the ceremony, including six year-old Nathan Woessner and his family.

Police officers, firemen, paramedics, and others worked together to save the little boy who fell 11 feet into a dune and was trapped for four hours on July 12th. He then spent two weeks in a hospital.

“He went into the heart of darkness and found the will to survive,” said Pence.

Rescuers say an air pocket probably saved his life.

Michigan City’s Mayor will also hold an event at Stardust Events Center at the Blue Chip Casino.

WGN News Writer C. Hayes published this story.

Michigan City, Indiana will pay special tribute today to the rescuers who pulled a 6-year-old boy from a collapsed sand dune last month; and Nathan Woessner plans to be there to thank them personally.

Nathan was playing at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore when he became trapped under 12 feet of sand for more than three hours.

Miraculously, he had enough air to survive; and after two weeks in the hospital, Nathan went home, and now he is starting first grade.

Michigan City plans two events to honor the rescuers — one at City Hall, the other at the Blue Chip Casino.

The boy, who nearly lost his life when he was buried alive at the Indiana Dunes, is back in school.

Nathan Woessner fell into a hole where nearly 11 feet of sand collapsed on top of him.

Firefighters worked for hours to save his life, and after making a full recovery, Nathan is in first grade playing alongside his classmates.

Doctors were worried about grains of sand left in Nathan’s lungs, and they feared the boy would have breathing problems.

But so far, Nathan has not experienced any discomfort.

In the meantime, investigators continue testing samples at the Indiana Dunes.

Last week, a second hole was discovered at Mount Baldy.

Its 10-inches wide and 5-feet deep.

It was found 100 yards from the hole that Woessner fell in last month.

Investigators found another hole at Mt. Baldy at the Indiana Dunes today. It’s a hole believed to be very similar to the one that swallowed a young boy last month
Officials say the hole is 10 inches wide, and appears to be at least 5 feet deep.
Last month, 6-year-old Nathan Woessner fell 11 feet into the dune and was trapped for four hours.
He’s now recovering at home.
Bruce Rowe, Supervisory Park Ranger with the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore spoke with WGN News.

They’re calling it the Miracle at Mount Baldy.

Michigan City firefighters were honored for the incredible rescue effort that saved Nathan Woessner’s life, last month. The 6 year old boy from Sterling, Illinois was buried alive in at least 11 feet of sand at the Indiana dunes.

Firefighter Anthony Stahoviak  said “You start digging and after a while you start to wonder, where is he? Because you’re digging far and you don’t find anything yet. It was stressful.”

Emergency responders used their hands and shovel .as they raced against the clock, frantically searching for Nathan.

Firefighter Brad Kreighbaum said “Those could be your children. [We] just wanted to get him out try to stay focus and not lose hope.”

Nearly four hours later Brad Kreighbaum touched the boy. “I was able to reach my hand down a couple of feet and felt the top of his head,” he said, “I looked back that they could tell from the look on my face. They knew.”

“I was digging sand with my hands so they could pull him up. It was a relief just to find him.”

Firefighter William Roddy said “After so long you wouldn’t think anyone could survive that with no air to breath and the sand is compacting. You wouldn’t think anyone could survive that but like they said it’s a true miracle that he did and still to this day you can’t really wrap your mind around it. How did he do that? Guess it’s a blessing. God was looking out for him.”

Nathan immediately showed signs of life and continued to beat the odds with a miraculous recovery.

He’s back at home now with his family. Michigan City’s fire chief called the rescue a true team effort and one of the proudest moments, the city has ever experienced.

“It’s amazing,” Brad said, “It’s actually a moment that makes you proud you do what you do. Everyone there had a key role. There wasn’t a person there that didn’t play a key part right place right time.

Nathan Woessner and his family did not make it to Monday’s event but they are expected at another ceremony planned for August 28th that will honor everyone who was involved in the rescue effort.

Indiana’s governor plans to attend as well.

Nathan’s father said he looks forward to shaking a lot of hands and hugging a lot of necks when he meets for the first time– some of the people who worked so hard to save his son.

Investigators will use some high-tech equipment to try to determine why a sand dune collapsed on a young boy at the Indiana Dunes.

Nathan Woessner, 6, survived four hours under the sand because he was trapped in an air pocket.

Starting next week, ground-penetrating radar may be used to examine the dune.

Some geologists theorize that a buried and decomposed tree trunk created the void Woessner wound up in.

Mount Baldy remains closed to visitors until authorities are confident there is no danger of another collapse.


It’s an incredible story of survival. Nathan Woessner survived being trapped for hours in 11 feet of sand. On Sunday, the 6-year-old was back in church with his family to give thanks.

Nathan is pretty much back to normal after the terrifying ordeal that could have ended his life. Just over two weeks ago, he was with his family enjoying a day at the beach near Mount Baldy at the Indiana Dunes. Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused a giant hole to open up, burying the boy alive.

“I just remember being so scared and afraid,” said Nathan’s mother, Faith Woessner.

It took rescue crews three and a half hours to find him. When they did, his heart was still beating.

Nathan quickly recovered at Chicago-area hospitals. He was released a few days ago and headed back home to Sterling, Illinois.

Nathan’s parents say their faith pulled them through.

“This was his miracle,” said Faith Woessner. “There is no doubt in my mind that God was with Nathan, God took care of Nathan, and God brought Nathan back to us.”

She says the only thing her son  remembers from that day is being at the beach.

A boy who was buried under 11 feet of sand was discharged from La Rabida Children’s Hospital Friday.

Nathan Woessner, 6, was previously receiving care at Comer Children’s Hospital. He arrived at La Rabida Children’s Hospital Tuesday, and while there, he received rehabilitative care including physical, occupational and speech therapy. He was seen for issues with balance, gait and memory, the hospital said in a news release.

Nathan will return to La Rabida at a later date to continue rehabilitative work, the release said.

Nathan’s attending physician, Michael Hobaugh, MD, PhD, said that Nathan is doing very well. He’s able to bathe himself, brush his own teeth and walk independently.

Nathan was buried in the sand for several hours on the slopes of Mount Baldy, on the eastern edge of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

More than 30 people took part in the rescue effort after.

A young boy was rescued from the sand at the Indiana Dunes has been discharged from Comer Children’s Hospital

Nathan Woessner, 6, of Sterling, Ill., left the hospital late Tuesday afternoon, and will receive rehabilitative therapy elsewhere for several day.

He had been hospitalized at Comers since July 12.

Nathan was buried under about 11 feet of sand for more than three hours at Mount Baldy at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

More than 30 people took part in the rescue effort.

The parents of a boy swallowed up by a sinkhole at the Indiana Dunes made their first public comments Monday.

Nathan Woessner’s  parents say “he’s doing exceptionally well” in his recovery.

Nathan and his father

Nathan Woessner and his father Gregg

They thanked everyone involved with rescuing Nathan and keeping him alive after the ordeal.

Gregg Woessner described the scene as “utter chaos” as he and the father of one of Nathan’s friends dug with their hands, frantically trying to get to the boy before authorities arrived on the scene.

Doctors say Nathan should be back home by the end of this week.

“Nathan is listed as in good condition and continues to improve. He returns to a regular diet today and can leave his room to visit the playroom,” said Dr. Diana Mitchell, Nathan’s physician at Comer Children’s Hospital.