Archive for Monday, June 8, 2009

Victim of near-drowning in fair condition

June 8, 2009, 4:38 p.m. Updated June 8, 2009, 9:48 p.m.


Teen rescued from river currently in fair condition

A teenager pulled from the Kansas River over the weekend is beating all the odds and is currently in fair condition. Enlarge video

It happened in an instant.

One minute, 14-year-old Joseph Ahlert was standing in ankle-deep water of the Kansas River washing the dirt off his feet; the next he was pinned under a tree in a raging current fighting for his life.

“He told me at one point he thought he was going to die,” Joseph’s mother, Traci Wilson, said Monday evening from her son’s hospital room at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

The West Junior High School ninth-grader slipped and fell into the Kansas River on Friday. He got caught up in a tree, the force of the water pinning his body underneath it.

Wilson said her son was able to hold onto the tree to keep his head above water, until he was overcome and eventually lost consciousness. That’s when a team of 17 rescuers knew they had to act fast.

“There are no words that can describe our gratitude,” Wilson said.

Joseph was not breathing when he was pulled from the water. Wilson said she was told later that her son had no pulse for four minutes. Emergency medical crews performed CPR for seven minutes, literally bringing the boy back to life.

“He’s made remarkable progress from the prognosis we got early on,” Wilson said. “They gave him a 1 percent chance of survival.”

Joseph was moved out of the hospital’s intensive care unit Sunday and is now in fair condition.

His mom said Joseph has been up talking and walking, and is expected to be released from the hospital possibly in a couple of days.

Wilson, whose husband is a retired firefighter, said she already has written thank-you letters to her son’s rescuers.

“They have always had my utmost respect,” she said. “I’m so thankful.”

Earlier Monday, Lawrence police said that on Friday Joseph was with four other teenagers on the spillway of Bowersock Dam when the accident occurred.

The five teenagers are considered suspects of criminal trespassing, Lawrence Police Sgt. Bill Cory said, though they have not been arrested or charged. The police report lists Bowersock Mills and Power Co., 546 Mass., as the victim.

The rescue occurred in an area marked with large signs indicating danger, such as one that said: “Extremely hazardous, all access prohibited.”

Joseph’s name was not released to the media until Monday afternoon. Lawrence police told the media on Friday that if there were any new information to report over the weekend, a news release would follow. No news release was made.


Leslie Swearingen 9 years ago

Isn't there something in the law about things like that being an attractive nuisance, well, something like that, so a fence large enough to keep kids out must be put up. Obviously this is an easy area to get into. Maybe an example should be made of this accident in accordance with putting up better barriers.

rorik23 9 years ago

Or, people could read the sign and stay the hell out.

Hope the kid makes a full recovery.

wordgenie8 9 years ago

It's wonderful to hear this young man is recovering: his rescuers must have done a competent and caring job.

Dec84 9 years ago

Irish, You amaze You always have the answers for everytihing...I am glad the kid is OK and hope he makes a full recovery. Why don't they make the kid do community hours and stand down and make sure no one else enters that area (read the sign outloud)...and maybe no one else will disregard the posted about that in stead of putting the responsiblity and financial woes on the city or Bowersock (fencing)...I'm sure that the city codes or law; states that Bowersock had to post known dangers, which it sound like they did...Start holding the violators responsible.

Bob Forer 9 years ago

The story reads in part:

"Ahlert and four other underage teenagers were on the spillway with their feet in the water......."

What the hell does that sentence mean? The existence of "underage" teenagers presumes that there are also "of age" teenagers. And what is the status differential? To legally walk on the spillway.

I give the reporter a D- for English. My advice: nix the "underage" modifier.

gsxr600 9 years ago

Glad he's ok. Still an idiot.

ebyrdstarr 9 years ago

Sycophant, 18 year-olds and 19 year-olds would be the "of age" teenagers. Underage teens would be those under the age of majority.

Noah Nunn 9 years ago

With all due respect to you adults, it would be very much appreciated if you quit being so crudely harsh on Joseph as it is simply disrespectful because I'm sure if that happened to any of you, you wouldn't appreciate being ridiculed. Of course he made a giant mistake. We all do. You were all our age too at one point, so please. As his best friend as a person in general, don't be harsh on him.

-Noah Nunn.

bearded_gnome 9 years ago

I'm delighted he's doing so well!

the initial first aid provided by the first responders saved his life, CPR, etc.

Good job!

Quigly 9 years ago

Fence? Get rid of the dam. It does not serve any purpose. Good job EMT and rescue.

gl0ck0wn3r 9 years ago

Green energy is a killer. Destroy the dam and build a clean coal plant!

(On a serious note: People who are being harsh on the kid are lame. Kids do dumb stuff, that is their job. This kid got unlucky and then very lucky. If this was an adult, I'd certainly feel free to make fun of him - but he's a kid. I'm pretty sure he's learned his lesson about hydro-electric power.)

Serenity Walters 9 years ago

You can put up fences you can put up signs teenagers that want to be risk takers will get's going to happen again...they are by nature impulsive. My son knew this boy and says hes always been a risk tasker..I'm so glad he is doing better I do hope this scared him enough to slow it down and think before he acts........I hope my son at 15 has learned something from this.

mommyoffour 9 years ago

I am so glad the young man is doing better!

I am just wondering if he had not made it, could of the other kids been charged with his death since they were so called commiting a crime while his death occured. Not that I think that would be fair, but I was just curiose.

Angela Heili 9 years ago

This is what you call a case of "natural consequences". Most rules are there for people's safety. Naturally, you break a rule that is there for your protection, and you put yourself in danger. Common sense should tell you not to break the rules.

Now, if you want to teach your child that the rules are there to break them and it's ok to break them, sue. If you want to teach your child that it's ok to blame someone else for your bad choices, sue. If you want to teach your child that someone will always bail you out when you make bad choices, instead of you learning from them, sue.

Otherwise, you let your child learn from the experience, hold him/her responsible for his/her actions. What this child did was indeed 'stupid'. We all do stupid things in life! All of us. But the most important thing is to learn from those mistakes, and bad choices, so that we become smarter, more mature, better individuals. If we don't learn from them we become nothing more than nuisances to society. Whiners and complainers who expect everyone else to be responsible for what we do instead of being able to stand on our own and be our own person.

Lillone is right. You can put up fences and someone is still going to get in. There are people in prison for breaking into houses, cars, etc. They wanted in....they got in.

kmat 9 years ago

Regarding the fences - they've put up barbed wire and other fencing to try to keep kids out. They come back with wire cutters and bring it all down.

I'm glad this kid is ok, but I do think when someone breaks the law (criminal trespassing) and public services have to be used to save them because they broke the law, then the parents need to pay for those emergency services. The community had to pay for these kids stupidity.

And who would try to wash off in the river? The water was probably dirtier than his feet had been. If he had really just been trying to wash his feet off, he would have gone down where you can legally go to the waters edge to do it. This kid was doing what I see lots of idiots doing on a regular basis - playing on the dam. It's amazing more don't end up hurt or dead because I see kids out on the dam all the time.

Stuart Evans 9 years ago

there is a sign posted (it was even in the rescue picture) that says to keep off the dam. there is no way that the world can ever be 100% baby-proofed, no matter how much Irish wants it to be. most people just grow up learning things like common sense and personal responsibility.

Stuart Evans 9 years ago

What the hell does that sentence mean? The existence of “underage” teenagers presumes that there are also “of age” teenagers.

teenagers include people aged 18 & 19. both "of age"

Stuart Evans 9 years ago

so according to Irish & Py, we should fence off every lake & river that is accessible to the general public. that will be pretty. I'm a huge fan of chain link. i find it to be the most attractive of all fencing materials. maybe barbed wire on top too, because fences are easy targets for young kids to climb on. and since barbed wire is dangerous, we should put up another fence in front of that fence to keep people away from the fence.

notjustastudent 9 years ago

So this kid is 14 years old, and not dead, so he should punished for his actions, right? No action should be taken against the city or dam because "kids will be kids," right? Seems to me like the attitude towards this incident, and the alcohol related incidents that have occurred recently, are conflicting. I'm pretty confused...

Stuart Evans 9 years ago

PY, I agree to some extent. However, these kinds of hazards have been around for hundreds of years. Are kids getting more daring or more stupid? Or has there always been this unknown percentage that lives right on the line of proving survival of the fittest? I was taught at a young age not to do stupid things that put my life in danger. maybe it makes me boring, but it also makes me very much alive.

make_a_difference 9 years ago

One of life's dances is parents/adults setting & enforcing boundries & adolescents pushing those boundries.

This sounds like a situation where kids were exploring/hanging out & things took a turn for the worse...thankfully not for the horrific. An opportunity for a teachable moment....

Somtimes things happen.

Kontum1972 9 years ago

hmmm....just wait till his parents get the bill from the city with the new rate increases for the rescue....this is not a freebee...

sports_star55 9 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Martin Shupert 9 years ago

I've made bigger mistakes than he did. Live and learn. I'm happy he gets to do both. I hope the four minutes did not injure his brain. Under age teenager simply means less than 18. It implies nothing more than the fact that they would not be tried for trespassing as adults. There are a few facts in the term "underage". I would imagine all those kids learned something. Ridiculing the boy (who is probably much closer to being a man today) is worthy of ridicule itself. Anyone who has not done something stupid is probably too old to remember the stupid things he/she did. Let he who is without any history of stupidity cast the first ridicule.

cj123 9 years ago

Glad the boy is okay! He made a mistake and I am sure he will probably not go down there again, I wouldn't!

password 9 years ago

martyks - i agree with your comment. very good perspective and self reflection.

Mistajinxxx 9 years ago

How about the city contribute something for our teens to do instead of the massive bar scene downtown has become. Lawrence is not just made up of college students, it is a family community as well. What do they expect all these teens to do? Lawrence gets what it invests in. Why should it expect anything else? What God did for Joe is a blessing. Many of us were praying all weekend long for him. I'll never forget the witness my daughter got out of all this. The Lord had given me the confidence that He was going to bring Joe through this. I told her it's times like this where your faith really counts. The next day when she planned to go see him, she told me in tears that she had heard them say he might not make it. I had spent the whole night up fasting and praying and the Holy Spirit gave me visions about Joe. I told my daughter, "No, it is not over for Joe, God gets the last word." When my daughter arrived at the hospital, she met Joe's stepdad with the wonderful news that Joe had awakened. God took an ugly situation and turned it for the good.
I believe God will bring Joe through whatever lies ahead. God brought him back with a purpose. And if God be for you, then 'who' be against you?

Stuart Evans 9 years ago

just imagine... up all night.. jacked up blood sugar because you're not eating, and you're awake when you're normally sleeping, having deep, worrisome thoughts.. I totally wonder why you had p.s. i just had a miracle. i had some pains in my stomache. air came from beneath me and the pains were gone.

Mistajinxxx 9 years ago

Don't imagine or speculate, try walking with God and see for yourself. I've walked with god for 29 years and seen Him do many great things. Oh, by the way, 1 or 2 days of fasting doesn't cause that and visions aren't bound to times of fasting. Try it yourself and see what you experience. I don't know you, but I will pray that God will reveal Himself to you. That is the most important thing in my heart. The bible teaches that these things are foolishness to those that are perishing, but it is the power of God to them that have 'the life'. People can cut me down or even take my life, but I will stay true to Him that loved me and called me out of that same darkness into His heavenly light.

Stuart Evans 9 years ago

I feel sorry for you and people like you who have been suckered into believing there is a god in the sky running your life. something you can place blame on, other than your own abilities. You seem to be knee deep in the belief, so I'd guess that you're one of the 'earth is 6,000 years old' types. I suppose you also don't believe in evolution, or that the earth is round and we're not the center of the universe.

Mistajinxxx 9 years ago

Don't feel sorry for me. Really. I have experienced it. God revealed Himself to me before I ever read the bible. I wasn't suckered, I was surprised. On the other hand, I feel sorry for people like you who are living this life with the idea that when you die, that's it. LOL. This is my last response to you. My brother/sister, whoever you may be. Yeshua (Jesus) is real. It's your choice whether to take it or leave it. I don't understand why eternal life is unappealing, but hey, if that's what you want, good luck on that. Now, evolution, I simply don't care. I don't live my life to argue about being related to a monkey. Why don't you guys go find a way to help your brothers who haven't evolved yet find their way... LOL. I'm just messin' with ya! :) On a serious note, I have been praying for you and always will. I know God and I hope you will too soon. You don't look at a fruit and decide then and there whether you like it or not, you pick it up and take a bite of it and taste it. Same with God. How can you scoff when you've never tasted of the Spirit of God. Seek God and then come back with your rantings. I promise you, you won't. Take care! :)

Stuart Evans 9 years ago


you've been indoctrinated from an early age. you don't understand the history of religion and those who have used it to build power and wealth. You only see/believe what you've been spoon-fed. Eternal life is only real in the fact that we are all made up of star dust and every molecule of our bodies is a piece of the universe. we are constantly shedding and acquiring new molecules. So many things that religion and god are based on have been disproven through scientific means. Even the Catholic church now admits to many of these falsehoods. I'm sure it's very nice to not have a clue where things come from or how they work. after all, ignorance is bliss. I've often thought about how much happier i'd be if I could just let go of what I know and go with the "it's gods will" argument. Once you start picking apart the things that people attribute to "god", it becomes very clear that the original pagan stories have been manipulated and changed BY MAN, for power & greed. Also, i wasn't born into atheism. I grew up in the Methodist church, and was confirmed. but as a thinking adult, i was able to separate truth from fiction. it's as easy as the easter bunny and santa claus. I'm not saying that all religious people are kooks or stupid, just misinformed. unless of course they are thumpers....

Mistajinxxx 9 years ago

You are wrong about me. I do understand the history of religion and that is why I have no part in religion. No wonder you are confused! Our history doesn't lead us to God. The bible teaches salvation comes to first the Jew then the Gentile. Put that puzzle together. ;) If you want to understand YHWH God, you have to depart from our own history and trace back to the root of 'real' christian faith. Not the American one, I'm talking where it all began. Turn your eyes toward Israel. Learn how God worked salvation through the Israelites and then you fully can understand the purpose of the Messiah. My friend, the history of religion is dark indeed. As I grew up and listened to many versions of faith, I had to search it for myself. What I learned made me wonder why all these name tag religions do what they do? It makes no sense to me, but I am not their judge. If people want to bat the wind for salvation when all it takes is 'faith', well, that's their choice. But the Word of God in America as well as the Tanakh teaches relationship with the heavenly Father through faith. This was proven by Abraham's relationship with God. He didn't commit to some ritualistic act, he simply believed and trusted God. That trust was credited to him as righteousness and God blessed Him.
Listen, I am being sincere with you. You just said you commited to man-made organizations. What I am saying to you is this, Commit to the God of Israel and learn from Him. Not man. In time, you will see and experience things you never thought possible. As far as Catholics saying what you just said. I was introduced to that a long time ago and I can't tell you where they came up with some of what they believe. Not all of them believe the same way though. But that goes back to what I said about man-made organizations. I don't want any part of them. I didn't want to reply again, but after reading your new response, my heart went out to you. I agree with you on some of what you said.

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