Michael Knapinski, 45, has received a second lease on life after hiking in Mount Rainier in Washington State, where he got lost and faced blizzard-like, whiteout conditions that seemed to have ended his life.
On the morning of November 7, Knapinski was going on a snowy hike with a friend through Mount Rainier National Park. They later separated as his friend continued on skis to Camp Muir while Knapinski snowshoed down towards Paradise, where they had planned to meet up.
Knapinski, however, never showed up as the weather took a drastic turn for the worst.
“I was pretty close to the end (of the trail). … Then it turned to whiteout conditions, and I couldn’t see anything,” he told the Seattle Times in a phone interview last Friday.
He added that the last thing he remembers was taking baby steps down the mountain as the whiteout conditions kicked in.
“I'm not sure what happened. I think I fell,” he added.
After Knapinksi’s friend reported him missing that day, three National Park Service teams conducted a search for Knapinski until early Sunday morning. Due to cloudy weather conditions, rescue teams could not send the helicopter team until the afternoon.
Knapinski was eventually found by the helicopter searchers but he was unconscious with “barely a pulse”. According to Mount Rainier officials, the temperature had dropped to 16 degrees overnight.
CBN News reports that Knapinski was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he went into cardiac arrest.
The medical team at Harborview’s surgical intensive care unit worked to restart Knapinski’s heart and spent the whole night trying to keep him stabilized. Two days later, Knapinski woke up.
"He came back from the dead," Dr. Saman Arbabi explained. "Maybe not medically quite correct, but his heart wasn't beating for more than 45 minutes. It's amazing."
In a video posted to Facebook, Knapinski called his recovery a miracle while he spoke from a hospital bed.
He told the Seattle Times that he has “a million people to thank” and he hopes to serve others as much as possible once he is fully recovered. Knapinski has often served doing volunteer work at the Salvation Army Food Bank in Seattle and helps build homes for foster children through Overlake Christian Church in Redmond.
“And as soon as I get physically able, that's going to be my calling in life," he said. "Just helping people. I'm still just shocked and amazed."
Knapinski’s relative, Wendy Knapinski, credited God for the miraculous recovery.
“This is easily the biggest miracle I have ever witnessed in my lifetime! God is great! God bless all of the people who have prayed, rescued, and cared,” she wrote on Facebook.
Photo courtesy: Siddhartha Gupta/Unsplash
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.