GALVESTON, Texas — Fourteen-year-old Caden Strimple remembers almost every minute.
He lifted a pool grate at a Bolivar water park in mid-August and slipped into an intake pump.
“I remember going down, and my stomach being sucked," Caden said. "Taking that last deep breath in, at that moment I thought I was going to die.”
Caden was pulled underwater and was unconscious when they got him out.
“He told his dad, ‘I love you, sorry it happened,’" Sheriff Henry Trochesset said.
But surviving the near-drowning was just the start of Caden’s road to recovery. At the hospital, Caden’s family learned the teen’s esophagus was detached so doctors put him in a coma.
“They said when it first happened, there was a 50/50 chance of him living, or not," Caden's mom, Jamie Blackburn said.
Today, Caden is walking, talking and will soon be ready to take on the world after seven weeks of treatment at John Sealy in Galveston.
“With every little thing, he surpasses their expectations," Blackburn said.
But it's not easy. His esophagus is still detached, so Caden can’t eat or even drink anything.
“That’s the hardest part," Caden said.
“It’s hard to even go a few hours without a sip, and he’s doing it for days, and then he’s doing it for weeks, and then he’s doing it for months. It’s just unimaginable," Blackburn said.
But surgery in a few weeks should put it back, and then, finally, what he’s been waiting for - his favorite food.
“Watermelon, pineapple, oranges," Caden said.
In the meantime, Caden is getting back to life, heading to a new rehab center, and even doing his homework.
“We’ve learned so much from this through Caden. Our son has taught us more about life than we ever thought we knew going into this," Blackburn said.
Wearing his a #99 Texans jersey like his favorite football star, Caden knows this is one thing he will tackle.
“I know that if I can do this, it feels like I can do anything now," Caden said.
More benefits for Caden are being planned.
There will be the #Cadenstrong Golf Tournament on October 26 and a Calcutta on Friday October 25 at 7 p.m. at Rancho Carribe Golf Course in Crystal Beach. Contact Mike Comeaux at 409-682-5807 for information.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help Caden’s family with medical bills as he recovers.
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