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Sterling boy could return home this week

After surviving near-suffocation, he could start school in the fall, grandpa says

STERLING – A 6-year-old Sterling boy, who has spent more than a week in a Chicago hospital after being buried in an Indiana sand dune, could return home this week.

Nathan Woessner was with his family at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore July 12, when he fell into a sinkhole on Mount Baldy and was buried for more than 3 hours under about 11 feet of sand.

Nathan's grandfather, the Rev. Don Reul, said he's responded well to everything doctors have done and all they have asked of him.

"It's looking good," Reul said. "They're talking like [Nathan can return home] the end of this week. Things are heading a good direction."

Nathan has been getting out of bed more often, Reul said, and he's been eating more as his appetite has increased. There's even a possibility he could start school when the rest of his classmates do.

He will hopefully enroll at Unity Christian in Fulton, along with the rest of his siblings, when classes begin in the fall, Reul said. 

Before the Woessners took their trip to the Indiana Dunes, Nathan's mother, Faith Woessner, asked him what he wanted for his birthday, which is in September.

Nathan didn't ask for toys or video games, Reul said, he simply wanted birthday cards in the mail. 

"He just gets so excited when something comes in the mail for him," Reul said. "That's the high-water mark. ... It’s pretty exciting for a little tyke to get something in the mail. … So that's what he asked for."

The Rock River Christian Center, 1800 Prophetstown Road, in Rock Falls, where the Woessner family attends church, is collecting cards and notes showing support for Nathan and his family. Reul said he knew Nathan would be thrilled if he received some early birthday cards.

Nathan's siblings, Jacob, 12, Olivia, 7, and Marcus, 3, are staying with family in Galva, where Reul is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church. The older two siblings have handled everything well, and Marcus is too young to really know what's going on, he said.

"It’s been quite a ride over the last 10 days or so," Reul said. "But everything is progressing in a real good direction. The Lord saved Nathan."

To help

A variety of efforts are underway to help the Woessner family:

– The Michigan City firefighters who rescued Nathan have set up “The Mount Baldy Miracle” fund through the Unity Foundation of La Porte County, which enables people from anywhere to donate money to offset medical expenses.

Those who want to make a tax-deductible donation should go to People may make donations online via credit card or from a checking or savings account.

They also may make donations by sending a check to Unity Foundation of La Porte County, P.O. Box 527, Michigan City, IN 46361.

– Rock River Christian Center in Rock Falls, where the Woessners attend church, also is accepting donations, both in general and for an upcoming benefit that will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Aug. 31 at the church, 1800 Prophetstown Road.

The church is also collecting cards and notes showing support for Nathan and his family.

Those who wish to make donations, monetary or otherwise, can call the church at 815-625-4371.

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