COMMERCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. – The mother of a Michigan boy who was trapped underwater for 8 minutes in a resort pool is speaking publicly for the first time about the terrifying moments.
Evan, 12, was in a medically-induced coma for three days and had to spend eight days on a ventilator. He's now back home and has returned to school. His family said he is tired and not himself yet. They are worried about potential brain damage.
After nearly 8 minutes underwater -- in just 3 feet of water -- the 12-year-old Commerce Township boy is still alive.
"I'm grateful he's alive, to have another day with him I thank God every day," said Evan's mother, Alyssa Pappas.
Pappas said she felt helpless as her son was trapped underwater in a lazy river at the resort in South Carolina.
"It was scary. It seemed to happen fast but take forever at the same time," said the mother.
Chilling surveillance video
The chilling surveillance video from the resort shows Evan's panicked best friend screaming for help. People immediately jumped in to try to help free the boy.
Police were eventually able to free the boy. They performed CPR and Evan was airlifted to a hospital.
"Just seeing him being pulled out of the water it was very hard," said Pappas. "It's a miracle he's alive at all."
Piece of goggle fell under grate
The two boys and the parents of Evan's friend were enjoying the lazy river at the Avista Resort in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. Alyssa Pappas said one of their googles broke and a piece fell under the grate covering a powerful drainage pipe. The boys were able to remove the 3-feet-by-3-feet grate underwater.
"They didn't have a tool. They just moved grate and a powerful filtration system sucked Evan underwater," said attorney Mike Morse, who is representing the family.
"It should've been safe. No one should be able to lift something so dangerous," said Pappas.
Evan was no match when his knee was sucked into the pipe, pulling him underwater.
"It was stuck between suction and a metal bar. It took four people to bend this bar and get him free," said Morse.
"This is complete negligence on behalf of the hotel. They didn't have proper screws. South Carolina law is very clear tha they needed corrosion-proof screws in grates and they didn't have it," said Morse.
Avista Resort officials released this statement to NBC News:
"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."
Evan's mother hopes others learn from a frightening experience that could have cost a 12-year-old boy his life.
"This is a place for kids to play to do what kids do. I think we're taught don't let kids swim without a grownup, but what do you do when there are adults and there are other dangers, too?" said Pappas.
Morse said they haven't filed a lawsuit yet while and investigation ongoing, but expect it in the coming weeks.