LONG?BEACH, Wash. —The 12-year-old boy who almost died after getting swept up in the undertow off the Long Beach Peninsula is still in the care of specialists at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

But Charles “Dale” Ostrander’s doctors say a full recovery is possible.

Volunteers with South Pacific County Technical Rescue group pulled the boy from the ocean Aug. 5 after he was submerged for as long as 15 to 20 minutes.

Pacific County Fire District No. 1 paramedics worked to revive the child, but it wasn’t until he reached Ocean Beach Hospital in Ilwaco, Wash., that medical professionals were able to detect a pulse. Details of his revival there are protected by federal privacy laws, but he was eventually flown to Portland for further treatment.

Since then, Ostrander has been under close watch at OHSU’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. On Aug. 8, he opened his eyes, began breathing on his own, and spoke his first full sentence.

Thursday, Ostrander’s prayer blog announced that the hospital had upgraded his condition to “fair” and he was moved out of the intensive care unit.

“Dale is breathing completely on his own, but still has a feeding tube, and an IV. Monitors continue to track his vitals,” a blog entry reported.

After receiving acceptable MRI results, doctors removed Ostrander’s neck brace and have started him on physical therapy. Capable of smiling and offering a “thumbs-up” gesture, Ostrander is able to answer “yes” or “no” to nurses’ questions, and even say, “Stop it!”

“The doctors are very hopeful and full of promise. It’s still too early to know for sure, but they are saying it’s possible that he could make a full recovery … The doctors are saying from the results of the MRI, there’s no reason he shouldn’t make a full recovery.”

On Saturday night, Ostrander suffered a seizure. The next day, the blog reported, “Today Dale got up and walked down the hall with help from the physical therapist. The seizure that happened last night may have just been his brain ‘catching up’ to some of the sensations of pain.”

At church Sunday morning, the boy’s father, Chad Ostrander, said to the congregation, “It’s not about Dale, it’s not about our family, it’s all about God. We’ve been privileged, fortunate to see a miracle this week.”

“We didn’t understand, we just accepted,” he said. “I knelt by his bed and put Dale on the altar, like Abraham. I told God, ‘You offered your son, you know how it feels. Thank you for letting us say goodbye.’ We tried to let (our daughters) know that he wasn’t coming back. That night, the doctor knelt down right by Dale’s ear and said, ‘Dale, open your eyes!’ and his eyes opened. We thought, ‘Wow, there’s hope.’”

News of the rescue spread worldwide, in part because of the dramatic photos that appeared in the Chinook Observer and The Daily Astorian and in part because another 12-year-old helped in the early stages of the rescue.

Visitor Nicole Kissel stopped by OHSU to see Ostrander and answer media questions before she flew home to California. Kissel, also 12, from California who was visiting her father on the Long Beach Peninsula this summer and was boogie-boarding when the drama started. She attempted to rescue Ostrander before a large wave separated them. Her father, Peninsula resident Shanon Kissel, was able to retrieve Kissel, but Ostrander was out of sight. In the days following, Kissel at first thought Ostrander had died.

Though many say Kissel’s actions were heroic, the sixth-grader told her hometown newspaper, the Merced Sun-Star, that what she did was not “a big deal.”

“It doesn’t make me feel like a hero, because if those other people weren’t there, he wouldn’t have made it for sure,” she told the newspaper. As for ignoring her father’s pleas to return to the shore, Kissel said, “Really, nothing goes through your mind when someone needs help or they’re about to drown. They’re in trouble.”

How readers can help

• A spaghetti dinner to benefit the all-volunteer South Pacific County Technical Rescue team is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Lost Roo restaurant, 1700 S. Pacific Highway in Long Beach. Cost is $10 a plate. The menu features spaghetti with clam sauce or marinara, vegetarian options, bread and salad.

• Cards and donations for Dale Ostrander may be sent to Bethel Baptist Church, 524 E. 176th St., Spanaway, WA 98387.

The family’s prayer blog is online at prayersfordale.blogspot.com

• Photos of the rescue taken by Chinook Observer photographer Damian Mulinix were featured in numerous media, including World News with Diane Sawyer, Good Morning America, the Today Show, regional newscasts in the Seattle and Portland markets, news radio including Oregon Public Broadcasting, and news publications and websites from as far as Sweden, Africa and South America. After appearing on the popular MSNBC.com photo blog (www.tinyurl.com/3bwyst5), Mulinix’s photo of surf rescue volunteer Doug Knutzen carrying Ostrander from the surf was chosen as one of the Pictures of the Week, and is holding the first-place in online voting (www.tinyurl.com/3pusgy6).

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