It's a startling medical recovery that one doctor called a "bonafide miracle," with another emergency room physician crediting the "holy spirit" with breathing life back into a teenager who flat-lined and was reportedly dead for 45 minutes after falling through ice and spending 15 minutes submerged in frigid water.
It was Martin Luther King day when John Smith, 14, and two of his friends plunged through the ice at Lake Saint Louise in Missouri. While two of the kids escaped relatively unharmed, Smith nearly lost his life, KDSK-TV reported.
His remarkable story of survival, though, has baffled doctors, with perhaps no one is more stunned than Smith himself.
"After listening to what the paramedics and doctors said I'm pretty surprised at the outcome," he told the outlet. "I'm surprised I'm alive but it's a real miracle that I'm alive, and I thank God I'm alive, and there's a reason I'm alive, so I'm just going to kind of follow what God has in store for me throughout my life."
And "miracle" isn't a word that Smith, his parents and physicians are using lightly, as doctors thought there was little chance of survival in the wake of the accident, spending 27 minutes unsuccessfully performing CPR on the teen before nearly giving up.
"In my mind this is a very grim, very poor chance of survival already," said Dr. Kent Sutterer of the moment Smith was brought to the hospital. "The question was raised: how long should they continue [CPR]. He was dead for 45 minutes."
Sutterer, who was on duty in the emergency room at SSM St. Joseph Hospital West in St. Louis, recalled delivering the tragic news to Smith's mother, Joyce Smith, KDSK-TV reported.
But then something startling happened. Rather than give up hope, she entered the hospital room and began praying loudly. And while the mother doesn't remember her exact words, she recalls imploring God to save her son.
"I remember [saying], 'Holy God, please send your Holy Spirit to save my son. I want my son, please save him,'" she said.
At that moment, the dire situation reportedly changed. Smith, whose heart had stopped, apparently began beating again, with doctors announcing that he now had a pulse — something that they thought was unlikely to happen.
Sutterer was so shaken and moved by the experience that he penned a letter about it, writing that Smith's "heart was jump started by the Holy Spirit listening to the request of his praying mother."
Another physician, Dr. Jeremy Garrett, helped Smith through his recovery and later called the entire spectacle a "bonafide miracle."
Smith opened his eyes just 48 hours after the accident and began answering doctors' questions. His recovery has been so rapid ever since that even doctors are having a hard time keeping up, according to KDSK-TV.
Smith's father, John Smith, said that the situation might seem confusing, but that he's confident it's miraculous.
"I know it doesn't fit into our neat little box of today, but again, you can't refute the clinical evidence," he told the outlet.
The Smith family is no stranger to faith, as they attend First Assembly Church in St. Peters, Missouri, where parishioners have been praying for the boy's recovery since last month's accident.
Many believe those prayers have worked, as Smith is poised to go home in the next few days. Read more about his stunning story here.