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Published September 30, 2013, 09:16 PM

60 on 6: Boy who fell through the ice and survived

Moorhead, ND (WDAY TV) - Tonight, on our Special 60 on 6, the story of an 11-year old Moorhead boy who fell through the ice and survived. Despite being under the ice for 45 minutes.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Moorhead, ND (WDAY TV) - Tonight, on our Special 60 on 6, the story of an 11-year old Moorhead boy who fell through the ice and survived. Despite being under the ice for 45 minutes.

It was a story that captivated our region for days and weeks, back in 1987.

A look back, as WDAY celebrates 60-years.

It would be an early December afternoon, that a mother stood on the banks of the Red River in Moorhead, and screamed for her son, praying.

On the river, Fargo and Moorhead Fire, along with Paramedics, used tools to break the ice, frantically searching for any sign of Alvaro Garza who had crossed the river, and fallen through thin ice.

But as minutes ticked by, hope dimmed. No one could possibly survive this long underwater, under the ice. Then, after 45-minutes, this.

The limp body of Alvaro was pulled from the river, paramedics rushed him directly to the hospital. Even then, there was little to no chance he would survive. At the time, clinically dead. No pulse No heartbeat or respirations. His body temperature dropped to 77.

William Norberg- Trauma Specialist: “The eventual outcome is uncertain his age his size and cold water all played major factors and so he is in a marginal zone for survival”

Alvaro Garza Sr- Father of Boy “I just want to thank the rescue squad who saved him that is all I can say.”

Trauma surgeons at what is now Sanford, used an experimental procedure to save his life. Alvaro was revived by putting him on a heart lung bypass machine. Warming his body. Forcing out water and pumping in air. What saved Alvaro, his body cooled down so much underwater that all systems shut down.

Garza Sr: “Friday December 4th, he was dead, now the 9th he is alive, and he was talking to me and everything”

The story made headlines around the nation. Fargo/Moorhead moved into action, raising money for the family. Letters poured in from around the world.

“I am a grandmother and you could have been my grandson.”

His classmates wrote letters and paramedics who rescued him came to visit him.

Jim Reiber- Firefighter: “It is unreal to come and see him here someone was watching over him.”

Within days, he was awake, talking. His recovery was called a Christmas Miracle. 17-days after coming in dead, he left the hospital.

Alvaro Garza – Boy in River: “I have been riding bike, playing football.”

A year later, we caught up with him. Believe it or not, no complications, 45-minutes without oxygen, under water, and the Christmas Miracle boy was able to function like a normal 12 year old.

Garza: “I am feeling great. I am normal. I can do anything.”

Sadly, the years to come, would be anything but celebratory. Kevin Wallevand.

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