River rescue boy makes miraculous recovery

Date: Friday 26th April 2019
Kacper with his parents, Mark and Wioletta, and brother Karol
Kacper with his parents, Mark and Wioletta, and brother Karol

A BOY who was rescued from the River Eden after being under water for around half-an-hour has thanked rescuers as he continues to make a miraculous recovery.

Kacper with town firefighters (left to right) John Bell, crew manager Neil Aitken, Brad Hall, Steve Wharton, Dave Anderton, James Wood and Mike Dowding.
Kacper with town firefighters (left to right) John Bell, crew manager Neil Aitken, Brad Hall, Steve Wharton, Dave Anderton, James Wood and Mike Dowding.

Kacper Krauze, aged 13, almost died after he got into trouble while playing near Holme Farm Bridge, Appleby, around eight weeks ago.

At the weekend Kacper and his family were overjoyed as he made a brief return from hospital to their home in the town’s Meadow Close. It was a visit his parents, taxi driver Mark, aged 50, and 42-year-old Wioletta, who works for Cumbria Care, feared he would never make.

The incident began around 5pm on Tuesday, 26th February, when Kacper’s brother, Karol, aged 19, received a frantic phone call from a friend to say Kacper was in trouble at the river.

The family rushed to the King George V playing fields and both Mark and Karol entered the cold water in a desperate bid to find Kacper. “I just remember it was very cold and very dark. We couldn’t find him and we were all in shock,” said Mark, still visibly distressed by the memory.

Kacper was eventually pulled out by Appleby fire crew manager Steve Wharton after he had been under the water for between 25 to 30 minutes.

He was treated by staff who had rushed over from Appleby medical practice along with paramedics and BEEP doctor Theo Weston before being airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.

Dr Weston said there were probably only a handful of people in the world who had survived being underwater for the length of time Kacper had been submerged and that this was due to him being put on the right machinery at the scene to keep him alive.

He said it was “utterly phenomenal” that he survived.

The Krauze family made a frantic dash through to Newcastle and kept a constant vigil by Kacper’s bedside, never leaving him without either his mother, father or brother for a single minute. The teenager could not breathe without a life support machine and was in a coma for three to four weeks.

“When Kacper was in intensive care the doctor said he had been under the water quite a long time so they didn’t know how Kacper would be or even if he would live,” said Wioletta. “Nothing was working on his body and he was put on life support.

“For about 10 days we didn’t know if he would live or not. Then there was the threat of infection and that still is a threat.”

Kacper turned a corner in his recovery on 1st March, which was the first day his heart starting functioning without support.

The family were all there the first time he was able to open his eyes and there was a flood of relief that he could recognise them. A week later he was able to nod.

However, Kacper continued to have palpitations and battled extremely high blood pressure and body temperature. His kidneys were not working.

“It’s really difficult to say how Kacper will be in the future. We will need long-term treatment. He is having lots of medication and we have emergency medication for the home visit,” said Wioletta.

“Because there was no oxygen to part of his brain there has been some effect but we can’t say yet. He recognises us but he gets dizzy and can’t walk without support. The right side of his body is weak.

“Everybody says the fact he’s alive is a miracle. We think we was under the water for 25 to 30 minutes, we don’t really know.”

Kacper now faces a long journey of physiotherapy to learn how to use his hands again and also has a tremor which is affecting his speech.

Mark and Wioletta are full of praise and gratitude to those who helped in the rescue, and the police and medical staff who they say all went above and beyond to save their son’s life.

They also thanked Appleby Grammar School, where Kacper is a pupil, for its ongoing support. Deputy headteacher Kristian Moore, who has visited Kacper in hospital, spearheaded a fundraising campaign in the days after the incident which saw the Appleby community raise around £10,000 for the Krauze family.

“We want to thank everyone — our friends, family, neighbours, school — for all they have done for us and people who have prayed for us. There is so many people that have helped us,” Wioletta said.

Mark added: “We didn’t expect the help the community gave us. They have been so kind and generous and we have had so many good words and cards.” Kacper was able to say — accompanied by a thumbs up gesture — that he had missed home and was happy to be back for the weekend visit. He returned to hospital this week.