LONG BEACH, Wash. -- Charles Ostrander's head hung back lifelessly as he was carried out of the frigid Pacific, 15 minutes or more after a riptide sucked in the 12-year-old.
Today, he's alive. How?
You could say prayers. There were many along the beach late last week as his body bobbed limply just below the ocean's surface. But there was also a team of volunteer rescuers, the medics who performed CPR well after all seemed lost, and another 12-year-old who risked her own life to help him before anyone else could.
And there was the ocean itself. At 56 degrees, the water was cold enough that it may have bought rescuers a little time.
The boy, who goes by his nickname, Dale, has spoken a few words since his ordeal and was moved out of intensive care Wednesday. It's unclear whether he'll fully recover, but his parents, Chad and Kirsten, have hope.
Dale was visiting the southwest Washington coast with members of his church youth group Friday when the ocean's strong currents pulled him far from shore.
"A riptide hit them, kind of knocked them off their feet," said Shanon Kissel, a sawmill worker who was boogie boarding in a shallow area nearby with his daughter, Nicole.
Nicole took off after Dale on her boogie board, even though her father was yelling that she was going into a dangerous area.
"She didn't hear me. She just kept going after Dale," Kissel said.
The boy, dressed in a long-sleeve shirt and pants, struggled onto Nicole's 3-foot boogie board. The pair paddled ferociously toward shore as the rip current pulled them even farther from it.
When Kissel got back in the water he saw Nicole and Dale clinging to her board, turned sideways in rolling waves about 150 feet beyond the crashing surf. He was swimming out to the children when a wave knocked the pair off her board.
"She turns around to face him like she's gonna go back after him," Kissel said. "I had to tell her to get back on the board."
She did, but Ostrander had disappeared.
Rescuers reached him and began trying to revive him. Then Dale was flown to OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, Ore. Doctors have cautioned his parents that even if Dale survives, he could have permanent brain damage.
"Honestly, all of the doctors' prospects are very negative. They're very honest and blunt. But they said every once in a while there's a miracle, and we don't want to give up on that," his mother, Kirsten Ostrander, said.