Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer, far right, and Jack Elia, Blue Chip Casino, second right, welcome 6-year-old Nathan Woessner, center, and his parents, Faith, left, and Greg, behind Nathan, of Sterling, Ill., to the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, Ind. Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 27, 2013. Michigan City is hosting a pair of events Wednesday to recognize those involved in rescuing Nathan, who was trapped beneath 11 feet of sand for more than three hours at Mount Baldy on July 12. (AP Photo/The News Dispatch, Julie McClure)
A 6-year-old Illinois boy who survived being buried alive returned to Michigan City, Ind., to thank those who came to his "miracle" rescue.
With his teddy bear in hand and his family by his side, Nathan Woessner stood next to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence at a ceremony Wednesday that honored the team of 139 rescuers who saved the boy.
Woessner was swallowed by a sink hole 11 feet down in a sand dune at Mount Baldy in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the tallest moving sand dune in the federally protected lakeshore, on July 12. The team of rescuers spent more than three hours using their hands and later machinery to save him – a rescue that Pence called the “Miracle on Mount Baldy.”
“This rescue occurred because of swift thinking, because of collaboration and because of individuals who were willing to come together on behalf of one lost child,” he said at a ceremony Wednesday that honored the rescuers with an Act of Heroism award. All 139 names were read aloud during the ceremony.
Woessner was hospitalized for two weeks after he was rescued, but his since recovered.
In this photo provided Monday, July 22, 2013, by the Woessner family, Nathan Woessner, with cuts and scrapes on his face from his ordeal, sleeps at a Chicago Hospital. Relatives said over the weekend that the six-year-old Illinois boy who was rescued after spending hours buried beneath an Indiana sand dune is eating regular food and visiting the playroom at the hospital. (AP Photo/Courtesy Woessner Family)
“The story that could have ended in tragedy had a happy ending because of those gathered here today, and it still continues,” Pence said, adding that Woessner recently started first grade.
Later Wednesday, Michigan City is holding another ceremony at the Blue Chip Casino where a video presentation of the events that unfolded on July 12 will be shown.
The National Park Service is still investigating why Woessner was trapped by the sand dune.