PUYALLUP, Wash. (AP) - A 12-year-old Washington state boy pulled from the Pacific Ocean six weeks ago after being underwater for at least 15 minutes gingerly walked out of a hospital Tuesday as he continues his remarkable recovery.
"He is not 100 percent Dale," his mother, Kirsten Ostrander, said. But she added, "I believe that he will be back and recover fully."
Dale suffered brain damage and is relearning how to walk and talk, the Seattle TV station reported. Therapists will continue to help him at his Spanaway home with his speech and concentration.
But his mother considers his progress nothing less than a miracle.
The boy was visiting a southwest Washington beach with a church group in early August when a rip current sucked him out to sea. He was underwater for at least 15 minutes before rescuers pulled his seemingly lifeless body from the ocean.
"When they brought him ashore, he had no heartbeat," his mother said. "He was not breathing."
On Tuesday, Dale shook the hands of the nurses and doctors who have taken care of him at Good Samaritan Hospital in Pierce County. He spoke softly, assuring hospital workers he wanted to go home.
"There have been moments of great despair," Ostrander said. "When we honestly thought we were saying goodbye to our son."
On a blog set up to chronicle his recovery, family members said: "We won't stop updating this blog just because Dale will be leaving the hospital. I know there are countless people who have been reading these updates and crying and praying right along with us.
We want you to be able to continue rejoicing over God's ongoing miraculous healing of our son just as we will."
The boy has said he just wants to get home and pet his dog.
With a laugh, Ostrander said his son's goofiness is still there.