Tot survives 20 minutes underwater
June 12, 2007
He's a 'miracle' baby
Tot is sole survivor after being trapped underwater in car with mom and aunt
By AJAY BHARDWAJ, SUN MEDIA
Even as a northern Alberta family grieves the deaths of two sisters in a horrific crash, it's celebrating the "miracle" of a baby's survival after he spent 20 minutes trapped underwater in the car.
One-year-old Blaize Whitehead is recovering from his ordeal in the Stollery Children's Hospital. He was pulled lifeless from the 1993 Mercury Sable, along with his 21-year-old mother Anita Alook and her 17-year-old sister Angel. The sisters died from drowning but rescuers, including nurses, were able to resuscitate Blaize.
"I can't believe it," said Wesley D'Or, the women's stepdad and step-grandfather of Blaize. "He's just a baby and I believe that car was submerged for 20 minutes. It's a miracle."
Said Fort Vermilion RCMP Sgt. Ryan Becker: "He's a little ray of sunshine."
Anita and Angel had just dropped off Anita's five-year-old son at kindergarten and were headed north in Garden River last Friday, said their mother Louina Alook-Nanooch. Police are still trying to determine what caused the car to hit a guardrail east of a bridge. The vehicle flipped upside down and fell into Garden Creek around 10 a.m.
A passerby saw the car's bumper going into the creek and went for help. It took rescuers "a few minutes" to find a forklift from a local maintenance shop, pull the car from the water and drag the three lifeless bodies out, said Becker.
They managed to resuscitate Blaize but couldn't help the sisters.
"I just had a feeling something bad was going to happen," said Alook-Nanooch, who had repeatedly telephoned her daughter Anita Thursday night. She finally spoke with Anita and everything was fine, she said.
Now she's recovering from the shock of losing both of her daughters.
"It's horrible," said the morose woman. "You can't even imagine the pain. A part of you is dead. I've never lost a child before. I'm holding on and I'm trying to think about my grandkids."
Blaize "is going to pull through. They're trying to drain all the water he swallowed."
D'Or and Alook-Nanooch had been attending a wake in Fox Lake for another member of the community who died in a quadding accident earlier in the week when they got word about the horrific crash.
They made the desperate three-hour drive back to Garden River, even spending a heartbreaking wait for a barge to cross the Peace River, before arriving at Fort Vermilion health centre where their daughters were taken.
"It was too late," said Alook-Nanooch. "I saw them at the health centre but they were already gone."
Angel was a loving Grade 11 student who had many dreams: to play hockey for the national women's team or teach, she said.
"She was just a kind, loving person," said Alook-Nanooch of "my baby."
Anita was a stay-at-home mom with two boys: Blaize and Wally, five. "She was a loving mother, who was always there for her kids."
Anita was married to Wayne Whitehead and the couple was raising their children not far from the Garden River home of her parents.
The entire family, including Alook-Nanooch's 19-year-old son, Kenneth, were close, she said.
Now, with the loving support of the entire community, they're trying to get through this difficult stretch.
"A big thank you to the community," said Alook-Nanooch.
Garden River is about 1,000 km northwest of Edmonton.