'Everyone who was there was certain that he was dead'

'Everyone who was there was certain that he was dead'
Rescue swimmers carry Dale Ostrander out of the water. Dale was unconscious and not breathing when rescuers reached him. (Photo courtesy Damian Mulinix/The Chinook Observer)

LONG BEACH, Wash. - A teenager who was dragged under water by a rip tide and spent at least 25 minutes stuck in the Pacific Ocean managed to survive the ordeal and is now recovering at a Portland hospital.

Reporter Damian Mulinix with the Chinook Observer covered the rescue for the newspaper and recounted the story on his blog. He said the story he first covered last Friday near Long Beach ended up being “the most amazing story I have ever been a part of.”

A group of kids from a church group were visiting Long Beach on Friday when a boy and girl went swimming in the ocean, Mulinix said. They both got caught in a strong rip tide and couldn’t get back to shore.

A passerby saw the two in trouble and dove in to help. He was able to rescue the girl, but the boy, Dale Ostrander, was nowhere to be found.

For ten minutes, members of Dale’s church group sat helplessly on the shore until rescue crews arrived, Mulinix said.

“Twenty-plus kids from the youth group sobbed uncontrollably and prayed on the sand during the search, a truly heart-wrenching sound if there ever was one,” Mulinix wrote on his blog.

>> Read more on Mulinix's blog

For 15 minutes, rescuer swimmers searched until they finally spotted Dale. They got the boy on shore and tried to revive him. He was not conscious and not breathing.

“I think it’s safe to say everyone who was there was certain that he was dead,” Mulinix wrote.

After receiving CPR, Dale regained a faint heartbeat.

A medical helicopter flew Dale to Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, where he was put in a medically-induced coma.

After spending several days at OHSU, Dale woke up and doctors were able to remove his breathing tube, according to a blog created to provide updates on his condition.

“Because of the possible damage to the brain, (the doctors) were unsure if he would speak,” a post on the blog reads. “Minutes after the tube was removed, the doctors told him to cough. Not only did Dale talk back to the doctors, he responded in a full sentence.”

>> Read more on the "Prayers for Dale" blog

“Going to these kinds of breaking news situations is always tough, as you never know how they’re going to turn out,” Mulinix wrote. “I was heartbroken for almost a day after this. And to be able to share this kind of news now is just so heartwarming to me.”

Dale’s parents speak at OHSU and say it's a miracle he survived. Read their story. Special thanks to Damian Mulinix and the Chinook Observer for their help reporting this story.