WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 24, 2011, 09:49 AM

Hitterdal boy found clinically dead 10 years ago is reunited with medical staff

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Our bone chilling temperatures in the last 48-hours fall on the 10-year anniversary of a near-tragic story that gripped our region for weeks. It was back in January of 2001, that 20-month old Simon Nelson of Hitterdal wandered outside in the middle of the night. When his parents found him, he was clinically dead. No heart beat. No pulse. What followed would become a string of miracle days for Simon.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

11-year old Simon Nelson along with his two brothers all got to sleep in a little extra on this stormy morning before heading off to school in Ulen-Hitterdal. Once he settled into Mr. Arbuckle's 6th grade classroom, Simon Nelson went right to work on some Monday math.

But what a story Simon has to tell. It was ten years ago that Simon decided to get out of his bed.

BRIAN NELSONSimon's Dad: “Because Simon had just gotten out of the crib, maybe 3 - 4 weeks before that and walked outside in his jammies in the middle of the night. So I went in his room and he wasn't there. She went around the house looking and I grabbed my coat and I looked down to the shop and you could see him laying down there in front of the shop.”

But By the time Simon's parents found him he had wandered 100 yards from the home and lay unresponsive and unconscious in the freezing temperatures.

“I ran down there and picked him up and screaming all the way back up to the house to call 911.”

SIMON NELSON: “They said I was trying to find toys in the shop or something and I couldn't get back in, so I just stayed down there.”

For the next several minutes it was a frenzy of EMS, firefighters, and LifeFlight, all working to do the impossible: Bring Simon back to life.

“10 years ago today, I would've never thought we'd be sitting here. And doing so well, doing so well.”

This after lying in subzero temperatures, that in the end actually helped save him.

“We didn't know if we were going to be taking him home with us or not.”

Dr. Roxanne Newman of Sanford is credited with leading the team that would help heal the little boy. After a week in a coma, he would wake up with no long lasting effects from his near death experience, except one hand that is slightly shorter than the other.

Today there was a reunion at Sanford. The doctors and nurses, helicopter pilots who were there the day this little boy came in clinically dead.

“Because I was just thinking it was going to be doom and gloom and I was just sick thinking about it.”

And whose story tore at the heart of those who cared for him.

ELAINE CLEMENSON, RNSanford Children's Hospital: “He opened up his eyes and he cocked and he looked around and I thought ‘Oh my God, he's going to be ok!’”

11 now, there is nothing Simon recalls from the event. He just knows a lot of people cared and prayed for him 10-years ago and today he is living proof you can beat the odds.

In the small towns of Ulen-Hitterdal, the story of Simon rocked everyone who lived there. One of Simon's teachers was fire chief the morning Simon was found. Charlie Johnson has been a teacher for 30-years. He recalls arriving at the Nelson home soon after the 9-1-1 call. He guided Life-flight right into the Nelson's snow-filled front yard.