Rebecca Laney and her family had been planning their labor day weekend at Stockton Lake for about a month. But Rebecca — a mother of three who lives in Carthage — never expected the trip to take a turn for the worst.
The worst happened in the blink of an eye when Rebecca’s son Furious, 17, suffered a near-drowning incident after he jumped off a bluff, became unconscious upon impact and then submerged in the water on Saturday, Sept. 5.
Before the accident occurred, Rebecca, her husband and her two sons boated to what is often called “party cove,” in the lake, she told the CCR, describing the incident.
Rebecca’s two sons went off the boat, climbed up a bluff with other kids and then disappeared to a higher cliff out of her view, she said.
“We were about 100 yards away from where they were jumping,” Rebecca said. “And my youngest came back down, got our attention and was able to tell us that his brother jumped off and went down and had not come back up yet.”
Rebecca said Furious had hit the water face-first upon impact, which had caused him to become unconscious as he sank into the water.
Upon hearing what had happened, Rebecca, her husband and their friends headed to the area where Furious had jumped off the cliff. What they then discovered was a nineteen-year-old boy the Laney family had never met before — Brody Von Brethorst — who had jumped into the water to find Furious as he was submerged in the water.
“In the midst of all that, there was somebody there that had a boat with a sonar on it,” Rebecca said. “He was able to locate Furious’ body and keep the boat right where Furious was down.”
Brody came back up to the surface of the water, went back down and then came back up because he couldn’t see due to the water’s murkiness, she said.
“They were able to throw him a pair of goggles, so he went back down, and he was able to get Furious and bring him back up,” Rebecca said.
When Furious was brought up to the surface, there just so happened to be several people in the area who worked in the medical field — with one person being a medical flight nurse from Cox South Hospital in Springfield, which is where Furious ended up being transported, Several of these people ended up jumping into the water to help Brody and Furious.
Rebecca wished to name the boaters who had the sonar device during Furious’ accident and the nurses who helped: Tony and Nicky Fast were the boaters, and the nurses were Korissa Terrodin, Katey Damasio, Lesley Grable and Amber Schmidt.
Considering Furious’ condition upon surfacing, all of the help was lifesaving in the most crucial split of time.
“He did not have a pulse,” Rebecca said. “He was dead whenever they pulled him up out of the water.”
The flight nurse, as well as other nurses on hand, immediately started to perform CPR on Furious. They were able to make Furious vomit and continued performing CPR.
“My husband had started to leave out of the cove,” Rebecca said. “By the time I got over there, all I could see was them doing CPR. That’s all I could see, and I went into hysterics.”
Rebecca said somebody had called 911, and the time it took for the ambulance to arrive seemed to feel as if it took forever, even though she knew “it didn’t really take that long.” A medical flight landed shortly thereafter, and Furious was transported to Cox South Hospital in Springfield.
Road to recovery
Furious was intubated in the medical flight, and once he arrived at the hospital, he was put on a ventilator.
The one-hour drive to the hospital for Rebecca was filled with “a thousand thoughts” going through her mind. She wondered if Furious would have brain damage, bone breakage or if he would even become quadriplegic, she said.
“They couldn’t regulate his temperature,” she said. “We spent two-and-a-half days in ICU, and then they put us into a regular room. They were able to get him off the ventilator.”
Once Furious was off the ventilator, he began responding very well to commands and yes-and-no questions by nodding his head.
“From there, it was basically all downhill — my ‘Mr. Independent’ child immediately wanted to give himself a drink and go to the bathroom by himself,” Rebecca said. “He even got up to try to take a shower by himself.”
Rebecca noted the Carthage community has expressed an outpour of prayers and support to the Laney family, as well as the communities of the nurses who helped rescue Furious.
Thinking back on the weekend’s remarkable road to recovery, Rebecca noted “the only way I can even explain this is those angels on earth were there at the exact moment that they were supposed to be there.”
Rebecca said if it had not been for the fast responses of the people who swooped down to rescue Furious, “I would have been burying my child this week.”
And now, Furious’ recovery seems almost like a complete 360-degree turn; Rebecca said if one were to look at him now, “you could not even tell that anything had happened.”
She noted that after her interview with the CCR on Friday, Sept. 11, Furious planned on attending a Carthage High School football game.
“He’s always been an athlete, so I don’t know if he can technically go out and run a mile at this moment, but I have no doubt that’s where we’ll be here shortly,” she said.
In an overall reflection, Rebecca said she is not a parent who has taken her children to church every Sunday or prayed before every single meal, but they have always had faith — and this fact shined through everything, she said.
“I get overwhelmed with emotion,” Rebecca said, thinking of the miracles that happened last Saturday. “He was here one minute, and literally the next minute he was gone. If anybody has any doubt about God and his miracles and their faith, I am more welcome to talk to any of them, because that is the only way I can explain this.”