John Smith drowned 15 minutes in freezing water

Impossible: The miracle of John Smith drowned for 15-minutes in freezing water

John Smith was five months old when his foster parents, Brian and Joyce Smith, adopted him from Guatemala. They were Christian missionaries in Latin America who already had three biological sons. His parents treated John as their own.

15-Minutes under freezing water

The Smith siblings decided to skate at the frozen St. Louise lake in Missouri one afternoon. The ice cracked, he slipped and sunk. By the time paramedics arrived, John had been submerged below the frigid, icy water for more than 15 minutes, reported NBC News.

This is not a rescue operation; it’s a retrieval,” said one of the emergency response team. When they pulled him out of the water, he wasn’t breathing; there was no heartbeat. Still, the paramedics had to perform routine CPR. After 43 minutes of getting nothing, they proceeded to the hospital.


john smith drowning
The real-life story turned into Breakthrough Movie: John Smith & Marcel Ruiz Interview in 2019.

A breakthrough miracle

Everything was surreal when Joyce, John’s mother, heard the news. She rushed to the hospital and pleaded. “God, you gave him as a gift; you can’t take him away from me.” Although the doctors were pessimistic, death never crossed Joyce’s mind.

Say goodbye to John

I was starting to give up,” said Dr. Kent Sutterer, John’s doctor at St. Joseph West Hospital. Then he brought John’s mom inside the ICU and hinted she could say goodbye to her son.

Joyce Smith had no intention of giving up. Instead of losing faith, seeing that her beloved “baby” John was cold and gray—she prayed aloud instead. “Lord, Holy Spirit, just give me back my son!” Joyce cried out.

The nurse had also been trying to get a heartbeat for 27 minutes. Moments after Joyce prayed—John’s heart began to beat.

John recalls the terrifying experience

The burning icy sensation was making things worse, but his concern was not that he would die but those with him who were also in danger. “Lord, I don’t want to die,” John pleaded silently with God. Then his body shut down about a minute after and went into some sort of hibernation.


God still performs miracles!

Pastor Jason Noble of First Assembly Church St. Peters, Missouri, with church members, arrived and continued to storm the heavens with prayers. Afterward, Pastor Noble saw a vision of two angels in the room and lights over John’s head.

What I believe is that God was putting his brain back together again, almost rewiring it.” “I know that sounds strange, but as soon as it happened, his eyes opened, and he grabbed my hand. I knew at that point that God was going to pull him through,” the Pastor said.

A vision of two angels in the room.


John Smith’s real-life experience turned into a movie titled “Breakthrough.”


What science says that happened to John Smith

The amount of time John had been without a pulse combined with his blood’s pH level is way below the range his doctor had seen anyone survive. It’s just impossible. Dr. Sutterer thought John would die in a matter of hours or days.

Some reports downplayed the miracle because most people rarely believe in miracles. “I’ve never seen anyone survive after being without a pulse for more than 25 minutes,” the doctor said. The story of John Smith is God’s way of reminding us of His love, but for those who believe.

During his interview on Fox News in January 2018, John Smith said he wanted to be a minister. He felt God had a purpose for saving him.


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  1. Loved the movie. Love the telling of God’s story. As an adoptee I would like to correct you on referring to Johns parents as “foster parents”. When adopted the child is legally and fully a child of the parents. The parents are THE parents. The child has the same last name and by all rights is the child of the parent. Foster parents are temporary guardians usually of children who are taken by the state.


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