12-Year-Old Boy Trapped Underwater for 8 Minutes Returns to School: ‘It’s a Miracle’

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The mother of a 12-year-old boy who was trapped underwater for eight minutes at a resort pool in South Carolina said that her son has returned to school just over a month after the harrowing ordeal left him in a medically induced coma, according to Today.

Evan Pappas of Michigan was swimming in the lazy river at the Avista Resort in North Myrtle Beach on March 19 when a piece of his young friend’s goggle broke off and fell under a grate in the floor of the pool, the boy’s mom, Alyssa Pappas, told local outlet WDIV.

Alyssa told WDIV her son’s leg was sucked into a drainage pipe after the boys removed the grate to retrieve the broken googles. He was held under the three feet of water despite the countless efforts of bystanders to free his leg.

By the time police arrived to help the boy, he had been underwater for a total of seven minutes and 40 seconds, NBC News reported. The Pappas’ family friend Shaun Skursky attempted to give the boy breaths underwater while he was trapped, but the outlet said that Evan wasn’t revived until officers performed CPR.

Alyssa told Today her son then spent eight days hospitalized on a ventilator, three of which he was in the medically induced coma.

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The entire ordeal has “been very traumatic for our family,” Alyssa told Today. Now — despite the odds — Evan is back at school, though he’ll have to continually be monitored for potential brain damage.

Alyssa said, “I know that so many people prayed for him. It’s just a miracle I think.” She added of Skursky, “I’m truly grateful for everything that he’s done.”

In a statement to NBC News, Avista Resort said that “with the grates in place, our lazy river is safe for all of our guests. Evidence confirms that the boy and his companion dislodged the grate before he caught his foot in the intake.”

Avista Resort did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Still, the Pappas’ lawyer told WDIV the incident “is complete negligence on behalf of the hotel.”

Mike Morse — who also did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment — added to WDIV, “They didn’t have proper screws. South Carolina law is very clear that they needed corrosion-proof screws in grates and they didn’t have it.”

While Alyssa is focused on her son’s road to recovery, she is cognizant that his future is still filled with unknowns.

“It’s kind of a waiting game to wait and see how he heals and how quickly it happens,” she said.

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