Late Christmas : Boy Rescued in Icy Canal Is Back Home

Associated Press

A small child who survived after being trapped in a vehicle under icy water for 20 to 25 minutes went home for a belated Christmas celebration Saturday.

Stephen Edmonds, 20 months old, was released from Washoe Medical Center here nearly two weeks after his rescue from an irrigation canal near his Gardnerville, Nev., home Dec. 21.

“He’s fine and he’s acting normal,” Deborah Edmonds, 19, said as her son left the hospital. “We’ll now be able to have Christmas and open some presents. This is a happy day and we just plan to stay home and rest.”

Stephen clutched a teddy bear as he left the hospital in a wheelchair, accompanied by his mother, other family members and the men who saved his life--paramedics Don Stangle and Bobby Wartgow and volunteer firefighter Steve Morgan.


Reward for Rescue

The three plunged into the 5-foot-deep canal and got to the boy by winching the vehicle onto its side and breaking out a window. The ordeal occurred after his mother’s vehicle skidded into the canal and sank.

“It’s an exciting day and it makes our job worthwhile,” Stangle said. “I think Stephen looks great and quite normal. Hopefully, paramedics across the country can learn something from this.”

Also accompanying Stephen on Saturday was his doctor, Barry Frank, who said the boy’s prognosis is good. Results of a brain scan showed he did not suffer permanent brain damage as a result of oxygen deprivation while under water, he said.


“He’s still weak and he’s not 100% at this moment,” Frank said. “But he’s making his way to a full recovery and there are no residual problems for now. I’m very optimistic and I anticipate he’ll continue to improve.”

Frank said the boy was saved by a phenomenon known as the diving reflex, which causes the body’s functions to slow down while submerged in freezing water and the windpipe to close, preventing water from entering the lungs.