Tot who fell in lake completely recovered

August 13, 2008 4:33:19 PM PDT
A 3-year-old boy rescued from the frigid waters of Lake Michigan nearly four months ago has made a complete recovery. Those who pulled him to safety are calling his recovery nothing short of a miracle. That child was strapped in his stroller when a gust of wind blew him into the lake. The boy was with his grandfather, who jumped into the water after him. Rescue crews had to jump in and save them both.

The first responders and medical teams involved in the rescue of 3-year-old Lazar Ognjenovic say he is a miracle. The hospital says he has fully recovered from the incident on April 18 when a gust of wind blew his stroller Into Lake Michigan . The then 2-year-old was in the hospital for close to a month. Wednesday, he was back at Children's Momorial Hospital for a visit.

The people who helped save Lazaar Ognjenovic's life and were touched by his will to live got an opportunity to meet the young boy Wednesday. The rescuers and physicians got to play with him, talk to him and share in his amazing recovery.

The boy's family did not want his face shown on television.

"They want you to know that lazar is a normal, healthy, happy child," said Kathleen Keenan, Children's Memorial Hospital.

Air sea rescue diver Brian Otto rescued the child strapped to his stroller in 42 degree water within 15 minutes. He says he just did what he was trained to do.

"All the hours that we put into this, countless hours of training, and I thought, you know, if I ever ask myself, is it worth it, yeah, I just found out half an hour ago," said Brian Otto, air sea rescue diver.

"To see that little boy upstairs, it gave me goose bumps," said Commander Ron Dorneker, Chicago Fire Department.

Doctors say the young boy has completely recovered from the April 18 accident. A sudden gust of wind pushed the toddler into the water at Belmont Harbor while strapped to his stroller. Witnesses say his grandfather, who could barley swim, jumped into the water attempting to save his grandchild.

"For that time, from the lake to here, was crucial to his survival. If they had failed at that, nothing we could have done would have made any difference," said Dr. Mark Adler, Children's Memorial Hospital.

"If you had asked me that night, as a neurologist, first of all, what the chances are that he would survive, I would have said very, very slim. And then, if you had asked, well, if he survives, what are the chances that his brain would come out of this uninjured? I would say even smaller than that," said Dr. Leon Epstein, Children's Memorial neurology chief.

Doctors say the boy only spoke Serbian when he came to the hospital. He now speaks English, which is an indication of his recovery.

"If there is such a thing as miracles, this would be one," said Dr. Epstein.

Hospital officials say the child's grandfather is doing well. They added that Ognejenovic spent several weeks at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago as an inpatient and outpatient. Doctors at the Rehabilitation Institute will be following his progress for awhile.

The young boy will be entering pre-school in a couple of weeks and has no recollection of what happened to him.


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