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Miracle, brave girl cited as 12-year-old boy survives riptide, near-drowning

In what some are describing as a “flat-out miracle,”  12-year-old Dale Ostrander, who was pulled seemingly lifeless from a Washington state ocean riptide, has begun speaking, amazing his doctors. 

A school photo of Dale Ostrander

Prayer is being cited as a factor in the boy’s recovery after being underwater for more than 10 minutes at Long Beach, Washington.

“Dale Ostrander was at the beach enjoying a picturesque day trip with the Bethel Baptist Church group,” writes Amanda Frink of the local Chinook Observer newspaper. “The surf was violently agitated.” The boy was dragged out to sea, but is ”alive today thanks to instantaneous heroism by a visiting girl, her dad and surf-rescue volunteers.”

“They just went for a day and were just getting in ankle- and knee-deep … it wasn’t a swimming activity — but he got sucked in,” said Denise Minge, daughter-in-law of Bethel Baptist Pastor Terry Minge.

Nicole Kissel describes rescue

That’s when 12-year-old boogie boarder Nicole Kissel heard a cry for help and saw Dale being dragged out to sea.

After hearing Dale’s call for help Friday, Nicole told CBS affiliate KOIN-TV in Portland, Ore., “I was thinking I have to go help him,” and immediately turned her boogie board toward the boy despite the objections of her father, who shouted over the crashing waves about the dangerous conditions.

Although her board is much smaller than a surfboard, “she took her boogie board and swam out to help him,” reports Frink.

She managed to reach Dale, who was struggling to stay afloat. Together, the two ruggled against the rip current and crashing waves.

Nicole helped Dale climb onto her small board — which is barely large enough for one person — then laid down on top of him, grasping the sides of the board just as they were hit by large waves and dragged further out into the heavy surf.

“When we were on that board, I kind of shouted out to myself: `We’re going to die. I can’t die like this,”‘ Nicole recalled.

At one point, in frustration, “I said a bad word,” she told reporters, and Dale admonished her, “Hey, God doesn’t like that.” Then he offered words of assurance: “Keep paddling. We’re almost there.”

Then, however, they were hit by a large wave and “were pushed down to the bottom,” writes Frink, ”where the two kids lost hold of the board and each other. Nicole said she was able to grasp Ostrander’s arm and, by pushing off from the bottom, pulled him up to the surface. They both swam towards the boogie board, which was floating about 20 feet away from them toward the shore.

“But as Nicole reached the board, she looked back and the boy was gone. That’s when her father was able to reach his daughter and bring her back to shore while another bystander took her boogie board in an attempt to find Ostrander.

But the boy was nowhere to be seen.

Help was summoned, including the South Pacific County Technical Rescue Team, the Long Beach Volunteer Fire Department, Washington State Parks rangers and the Coast Guard, which was conducting drills offshore. The Coast Guard vessel dropped buoys to determine which direction the water was flowing. At least a dozen responders stood atop various vehicles — including the Long Beach Volunteer Fire Department’s brush truck — hoping to spot the boy through binoculars.

Bethel Baptist kids pray during rescue (photo by Damian Mulinix, Chinook Observer)

On the sand nearby, the 20 kids of the church youth group gathered into groups and began praying fervently for their friend.

Within about 10 minutes, Dale was found  floating two feet below the surface, according to rescue volunteer Eduardo Mendez. He and rescue swimmer Will Green carried the unconscious boy to the beach.

“For bystanders, the scene was grim,” reports Frink. “Paramedics, kneeling in the sand, continued to work on reviving him for about another 10 minutes. Amid resuscitation efforts, Ostrander was loaded into an ambulance and transported to Ocean Beach Hospital with life-threatening conditions.”

Meanwhile, the Baptist church kids kept praying. Perhaps because of their determination, responders did not give up, although the boy was not breathing, had been underwater at least 10 minutes, and showed no signs of life.

“When he was found, he was unconscious and not breathing,” reported one witness on an internet blog set up days later and dedicated to prayer for the boy. ”Emergency personnel performed CPR on him and got a heartbeat and later got him to breathe on his own.”

“It’s up to paramedic discretion, not every situation is exactly the same,” explained local Fire Chief Jacob Brundage. “They have to take all the pieces of the scene and of what happened to determine the extent of resuscitation efforts. It’s up to the paramedic to make the decision when to stop efforts, and in that criteria or that protocol, there is a point where the paramedic can choose to terminate efforts, but in this case, the paramedic chose to continue resuscitation efforts to the hospital.

“I talked to my medic from that day and he said they didn’t get any pulse in the back of the rig; they discovered a pulse after they arrived at the hospital.”

At the hospital, the boy was put into an medically induced coma and airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Portland, Ore. There, doctors kept his body temperature down to help with the brain swelling.

“By Monday,” reports Frink, ”Ostrander had opened his eyes.”

“The doctors just removed Dale’s breathing tube and he is now breathing on his own,” the prayer blog reported that day. “Also, because of possible damage to the brain they were unsure if he would be able to speak. Minutes after the tube was removed, the doctors told him to cough. Not only did Dale talk back to the doctors, he responded in a full sentence saying, ‘I don’t have to.’

“Dale continues to get better by the minute and the doctors are more and more amazed! God is good!”

“Believe me, people are praying all over the states and all over the world,” said Denise Minge, who is maintaining the blog. “God is truly working a miracle! I personally think he’s showing off how powerful He is and proving that He is in control.”

On Tuesday, the boy’s mother, Kirsten Ostrander, reported her son is “doing miraculously well. He is improving every day, following commands, tracking with his eyes, and even talking some. Please continue to pray as he keeps fighting strong to recover. We appreciate all your prayers.”

“This morning at 8 o’clock, he said ‘Morning’ to his parents,” reads another blog entry. “He kept trying to get out of bed. When his dad told him that he can’t get out of bed, he said very emphatically, ‘Yes I can!’ Dale’s dad says that Dale is answering ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions.”

“There’s been several miracles just in the circumstances of finding him, the fact that he’s not dead, the fact that he can move, the fact that he can speak,” said his father, Chad Ostrander. “Unbelievable.”

When she heard how Dale was doing, Nicole recalled for KOIN, “I thought, ‘Thank the Lord.”‘

Two more words came Wednesday, when Nicole visited him. She said he seemed to have trouble focusing his eyes for most of the 15-minute reunion. But as she left, he made eye contact for the first time and said, “Thank you.”

“This was truly a team effort,” Fire Chief Brundage observed. “Sometimes the patient’s outcome isn’t positive, but in this case it was. This was certainly one in 100. But it wasn’t his time to go.”

And then, there’s also the matter of the fervent prayers of a bunch of young Baptists on the beach.

Comments read comments(44)
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posted August 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm

what about ALL of the people who faced life-threatening situations, who had people pray for them, but died anyway?

what about ALL of the people who faced life-threatening situations, who didn’t have people praying for them, who survived anyway??

i am a hindu and i faced a life-threatening situation from which 99% of victims die and i prayed to Ganesha and survived…

it wasn’t a miracle that this kid survived. it was random chance… the same random chance that caused me to survive.

if a “miracle” is one person surviving when ninety nine die, then i want a different definition of the word “miracle”.

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posted August 12, 2011 at 5:43 am

what a wonderful story…pure proof of God’s love for us…I pray the boy make’s a full recovery…also, that young girl is a true, unselfish heroine…

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posted August 12, 2011 at 7:42 am


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Curt Webster

posted August 12, 2011 at 8:37 am

The power of Prayer.

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Robbiestene McGahee

posted August 12, 2011 at 9:05 am

Wow! What a great story! God is an awesome God! He does answer prayers. I beleive in prayers.

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Liz Ogden

posted August 12, 2011 at 11:36 am

That’s it: the power of prayer can work miracles and this time it did. I almost drowned once in the Atlantic – not nearly so dramatically -so feel for this young man. May he go on to make something wonderful with the life that has been spared. Loved the positiveness of his parents. Loved the boy’s spunk when he woke up. God is good.

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Martha Taylor

posted August 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm

God is good.

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John A. Fountain

posted August 12, 2011 at 1:41 pm

“Where two or more are gathered in My Name”
Group prayer along with love and faith WORKS!

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posted August 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I have prayed for this young man, I had just came out of a “sticky” situation myself and I know first hand, how wonderful our “God “is. Just the mention or our faintest cry, he hears us. Praise God, Blessings, P.E.

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posted August 12, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Everyone has a time to die, and it wasn’t his time.

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posted August 12, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Hello Dale!
May you get well with each passing minute. Great things are waiting for you, you are in my prayers.

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posted August 12, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Miraculous and God is speaking everyone needs to listen.Have a full and speedy recovery

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posted August 13, 2011 at 12:02 am

this wasn’t random chance, but truly the work of our lord….we cannot know the mind of God and why some die and others live…we just have to believe that all works for the good for those that trust in the lord…i’m truly glad for you, the person who said it was chance, that you survived and i will pray for you that will will come to the lord and believe…God bless us all, especially this child who shows God’s love and power…

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Paul Lantz

posted August 13, 2011 at 7:41 am

GOD still works miracles.

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joe kloeppel

posted August 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Truly as I prayed for this young man tears filled my eyes so truly GOD and our LORD JESUS CHRIST truly have big plans for this miracle child.May our father in heaven heal him completely. Thank you lord JESUS CHRIST!!!!!

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posted August 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm

God clearly loved this little boy more than the other children who died that day. Lucky kid!

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Susie Sweet

posted August 14, 2011 at 6:55 am

Don’t forget the valiant efforts of young Nicole. God surely had a hand in her being in the right place at the right time. Kudos to the young people in the youth group for praying so fervently.. The power of prayer is an awesome thing. Continued prayers for Dale as he recovers…

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posted August 14, 2011 at 8:08 am

Honestly, if you are not a believer, I don’t even know why you bother to read from this site. I know there is bitterness when we feel God didn’t save someone that we love from death, but no one knows the will of God. The most immportant part was the coming together of the children in prayer who so obviously believed that God would hear and answer their prayers. God hears and answers prayers of believers. God cannot hear the prayers of those who do not believe.

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posted August 14, 2011 at 8:18 am

Przxqgl…You have been misled, my friend. When people ask “Where was God when my son died?” He answers “The same place I was when my Son died.” This miracle was not by chance, but by God. It is clearly recorded in Holy Scripture who our God is and what He has done and what He has promised. One of those things is trials and tribulations….it doesn’t always work out that we get the answers we pray for, but we always get what what God chooses for us. This is difficult to understand, but trials like this help make us stronger. The God that loves me loves you as well. I will pray for you and your salvation as well as for that boy, his rescuers and the kids who prayed. This WAS a miracle,

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Linda Schafer

posted August 14, 2011 at 9:03 am

the power of prayer does work and so does believing in Our Father

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Sally Clifton

posted August 14, 2011 at 9:39 am

I would love to hear Dale’s story when he is back 100%. I’d like to hear where he went, who he saw, and what was said. “Heaven Is For Real” is one of my favorite books.

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posted August 14, 2011 at 10:12 am

Praise & Thanks to the Lord for saving Dale, braveness of Nicole & unceasing faith of the praying youngsters! Our prayers are with u all, GB!

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posted August 14, 2011 at 10:30 am


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Carolyn Johnson

posted August 14, 2011 at 11:33 am

I am so happy for the quick thinking of the 12 year old for quick decision, even swearing, but God was moving her to do what she could. And then the paramedics not giving up. Yea God.
And most of all the kids from the Baptist church, God hears all prayers, but especially from children. God didn’t let them down. Praise God.

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Chuck Quinlivan

posted August 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Praise GOD for HIS miracle of life. Let us stop taking it with abortions. The begining and the end are of GODS choosing, not mans. Just imagine what would happen if we all got on our Knees and ask GOD to save our country.

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posted August 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm

GOD is good and faithful, perhaps if a few of us who call ourselves Christians would pray earnestly for our country, maybe we could get a little more done in getting the corruption out of Washington and all around the country. My prayer is that young man continues to gain strength and recovers fully. He will have a great life.

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David Davis

posted August 14, 2011 at 2:57 pm

God does miracles when people pray. It makes a differance.

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posted August 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm

GOD is in control, always has been in control, still is answering prayer, working mircles. We are nothing, can’t do anything without the lord. Amen! GOD has smiled on us, has been good to us. We better praise him, give GOD the glory. Praise his holy name.

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Lisa Bailey-Harper

posted August 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm

To God be the glory. I have been following this story and the fervent prayers availed. God is always in the miracle working business. We see it everyday when he allows us to open our eyes. Thank you Lord for revealing your power even today.

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Anita Lomenick

posted August 14, 2011 at 7:04 pm

God is so Good!

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Judith M Armstrong

posted August 15, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Glory to God! We serve a mighty God who is in control of all. He said… “Ask and you shall receive.” If you trust Him and belive on His promises and accept even those when He say’s know…He will be faithful and true.
Oh…I say Praise Him!

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Jonathan N Gardiner

posted August 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Praise God for his wonderful works towards the children of men.
Praise God for all those who chose and risk their on live’s to save a life.

May you all continue to grow in the grace and love of our mighty God the Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

I agree those who cannot stand hearing about our God and his works they should stop reading this site because it will only make their punishment more severe on judgement day for not believing on God and his Son(Jesus Christ).

Let’s also pray that they come to the true knowledge of our God and Saviour before it is to late.

Be bless and take heed!

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Clara Garrison

posted August 15, 2011 at 9:41 pm

This story brought tears to my eyes. How wonderful is our God! How wonderful are his children when they call on Him and give help to each other. So happy this boy was saved by the prayers to God.

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Rita Manea

posted August 16, 2011 at 7:43 am

Prayer continues to change things and God is still on the throne. So whoever is struggling now, let us continue to pray and never give up. It is never over until it is over.

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Your Name

posted August 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

I believe in prayer, if we pray and believe it will happen, it will happen, think god every day for his word and being there for us, i love the lord more than any think.

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Saleta Hines

posted August 18, 2011 at 6:47 am

Praise God. Nicole, God Bless your unselfish act. Blessing to you both. Stay in contact with each other. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. This brought tears to my eyes. I opened up my computer at work for my morning inspiration, I GOT IT> Thank you

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posted August 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Przxqgl, of the August 11, 2011 response, has taught me that Hinduism, at least from his perspective, isn’t very much of a religion at all. By confessing to be a follower of Hindu spirituality while simultaneously professing a purposive faith in the trueness of accidental materiality, he manifests the embodiment of a self-contradiction, as do we all at one time or another. Scilicet Ab Ambagibus.

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posted August 21, 2011 at 6:43 pm

God is good all the time. All the time god is good. I have seen him do many miracles in my family. He is my loving Heavenly Father.

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posted August 24, 2011 at 8:36 am

Wonderful post. This goes to show how god can save using the most mysterious of means.

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posted September 24, 2011 at 10:15 pm

my, my the power of prayer never ceases to
amaze me!!!! thank the LORD!!!

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posted October 23, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Prayer really does change things! We can nerver have too many mircles!This story brought tears to my eyes! I love happy endings!

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Carla Rocha

posted October 24, 2011 at 1:37 am

Thank you to all that prayed, believed, and continue to pray for this boy. God is amazing and prayer is powerful!!!! Wonderful story, thank you for sharing!

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posted October 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm

The prayers of righteous men avails much. Even though it was kids. They prayed in faith. Praise God for their faithfulness. God is able.

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Deacon Charles R. Miller

posted October 24, 2011 at 9:38 pm

I was not going to read this article,but God told me i had better. As I read the article my computer kept trying to foul up, I had to shut off and restart,you know the devil cannot when God says do something.The more I read the more my eyes filled with water until tears were flowing down mt face. I knew before coming to the end of the article what God had already done.We all were born for a purpose,the young girl was on that small board and placed where she was by God to show how he can use any of us to further his plan. Anyone who says there is no God should be checked into a mental facility,even so they would still be breathing the free air that God supplies. This is another miracle to remind us who is in charge.The old song by the group Stylistic says “the whole world is a stage and everybody plays a part”.What they didn’t say is that God is the Producer,Playwriter and Director.

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