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Boy Who Was Trapped Under Water for 20 Minutes Comes Out of Coma

December 23, 1987|Associated Press

RENO — A 20-month-old boy trapped in a car under water for 20 to 25 minutes came out of a coma and was fussing, crying and shaking his head Tuesday, hospital spokesmen said.

"It's really surprising how he is coming around," Washoe Medical Center spokesman Jack Bulavsky said of Stephen Edmonds, who remained in critical condition.

Added another spokesman, Tim Robinson: "The nurses say he's acting like a 20-month-old who's been through a trauma . . . crying and fussing . . . responding normally."

Bulavsky said it will take longer to determine whether the child suffered brain damage from lack of oxygen after his mother's station wagon skidded down an embankment, and sank wheels-up in an icy canal near Gardnerville, 40 miles south of here.

A biological phenomenon known as "mammalian diving reflex" has enabled some people, especially children, to survive extended immersion in cold water.

The mother, Deborah Edmonds, 21, escaped through a broken window, but could not get to her son. She was treated for minor injuries.

Rescuers were credited with acting quickly to revive the boy after pulling him from the car. Paramedics Don Stangle and Bobby Wartgow were among the first rescuers to arrive.

"All I remember is seeing four wheels and people screaming, 'There's a baby in there!' and I went in," Stangle said.

Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Greg Curtis and volunteer firefighter Steve Morgan were able to attach a cable to the car and winched it onto its passenger side. Stangle then smashed out a window and pulled the boy out.

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