When rescuers arrived to Missouri's Lake Sainte Louise on Jan. 19 after reports that three 14-year-old boys had fallen through the ice, John Smith had already been underwater for 15 minutes. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports he was taken to a hospital with no pulse, and while his companions were treated for hypothermia, staff performed CPR on John for 27 minutes. "He was dead for 45 minutes," Dr. Kent Sutterer tells KSDK. There was a "very poor chance of survival." But when the doctor called John's mom into the room, "she started praying loudly," he says. Adds Joyce Smith, "I don't remember what all I said. But I remember, 'Holy God, please send your Holy Spirit to save my son.' ... All of a sudden I heard them saying, 'We got a pulse, we got a pulse.'"
Today, John's brain function is normal and he's at home walking and talking like any other teenager, KSDK reports. He's getting physical therapy to regain some movement in his hands, but otherwise he's only battling a cough. "After listening to what the paramedics and doctors said I'm pretty surprised at the outcome," John says. Dr. Sutterer, who says John's heart started within "a minute or two" of his mom's prayers, later wrote a note to make sense of the experience. "His heart was jump started by the Holy Spirit listening to the request of his praying mother," it reads. Another doctor adds that "it's a bonafide miracle." John's rescuers from Lake St. Louis Fire and Emergency had practiced ice rescues just days before he was saved. (A 2-year-old recently survived a night outside in freezing temperatures.)