“We knew we needed a big, big miracle.” Those words from Pennsylvania mom Sissy Smith suggest just how grim the prospects seemed for her 26-year-old son, Justin, who was found unconscious and frozen after a night out in subzero temperatures last winter.
Somehow they got that miracle — and Justin, who was on the verge of being declared dead, not only survived but is thriving and returned to the hospital this week to thank those who saved his life.
The story began in February 2015 when Justin Smith was walking home after a night out at a bar with friends.
He doesn’t remember what happened, but doctors believe he must have slipped, hit his head and fallen onto a snowbank, The Morning Call newspaper reports. His father found him there the next morning after 12 hours exposed to the elements. The temperature overnight had fallen to 4 degrees below zero, the paper reports.
“I looked over and there was Justin laying there and he was laying face up there like this,” Don Smith told WNEP-TV. “He was blue. His face he was lifeless. I checked for a pulse. I checked for a heartbeat. There was nothing.”
Justin Smith was found unconscious and frozen along this road near his home in McAdoo, Pennsylvania, in February 2015. WNEP-TV
“The coroner was on scene. The state police were on scene. They were doing essentially a death investigation,” Dr. Gerald Coleman recalls.