|REEL FACE:||REAL FACE:|
Born: September 29, 1980
Homestead, Florida, USA
Born: abt 1957
Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas, USA
Born: July 9, 2003
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Birthplace: Sansare, Guatemala
Born: June 20, 1971
Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA
Born: July 12, 1978
New York City, New York, USA
Pastor Jason Noble
Born: August 26, 1976
Columbia, South Carolina, USA
Wentzville Fire Department Captain
Victor Zinck Jr.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Wentzville Fire Department Engineer
Born: June 2, 1954
San Mateo, California, USA
Dr. Jeremy Garrett
Pediatric Critical Care Doctor
Born: January 29, 1969
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Dr. Kent Sutterer
Born: October 3, 1971
Emergency Room Physician
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Born: abt 1949
Wentzville Fire Department Chief
"You don't expect to be in that situation," John Smith said. "We all thought that we were just going to have fun, to celebrate. It's a holiday. We'd just won a basketball game, so we were just going to have a good time, but we weren't expecting that [with] one wrong move, we would be all one second away from dying." The photo shown below of then 14-year-old John and his friends on the ice on Lake Sainte Louise was taken the night before the drowning, after the basketball game, when it was a lot colder and the ice was thicker. The next day it was in the mid-50s and the ice had melted some. -FOX 11
Yes. Our Breakthrough fact check confirms that John Smith was under water for approximately 15 minutes before rescuers, including Tommy Shine, found him on the rocky bottom of the lake and pulled him to the surface. John was in the frigid water for a total of more than 20 minutes.
This is somewhat dramatized in the movie. In The Impossible book, Joyce Smith mentions that something in Tommy Shine's spirit "prompted and almost pushed him to move in a different direction, straight toward the ice shelf." It was "a feeling as though someone were next to him guiding him." Using a ten-foot long pole with a hook on the end, he poked around the rocky bottom of the lake near the ice ledge and found John Smith. Tommy pulled John to the surface. Tommy Shine himself is never quoted talking about this spiritual nudge in the book, nor does he bring it up with his chief at the station.
In the movie, Tommy Shine (Mike Colter) is also portrayed as being an agnostic who finds faith after witnessing the miracle of John Smith surviving the drowning. However, his religion is never discussed in the book and it appears that this spiritual transformation is fictional.
The lake was about 10 feet deep where John and his two friends went through the ice. After John succumbed to the frigid lake and drowned, his lifeless body was discovered on the rocky bottom.
John's friend Joshua Sander managed to pull himself out. The other boy, Joshua Rieger, was trying to get out by pushing onto the ice and pulling himself, but the ice kept breaking. He was eventually pulled out when rescue personnel arrived.
Yes. "I'd talked to him moments before he went into the water," Joyce Smith said. "In fact, he basically hung up the phone from me and the ice cracked under [him], he went under. So that was around 11:30 a.m. They called me at 11:52 a.m. to tell me." -FOX 11
In researching the Breakthrough true story, we learned that John Smith was without a pulse for about an hour. He'd spent 15 minutes under water and another 40-plus minutes without a heartbeat after he was pulled from the lake. It was during that time that he was technically dead. "No spontaneous respirations. No heart tones. In essence, he was cold and he was dead. He was gone," said Dr. Kent Sutterer, the ER doctor on duty that day. Dr. Sutterer is portrayed by Sam Trammell in the movie. -CBN
Yes. "It's helped me so much in my life," she told Inside Edition, "and I think it's the reason why I'm standing here, you know, at this incredible premiere."
Yes. Friends gathered at the hospital to pray for John. His story went viral as prayer chains spread through Facebook. "Facebook was just blowing up," says his mother, Joyce. "My phone was coming off the wall – people praying, people sending me scriptures that they were praying for John." -CBN
Yes. Doctor Garrett (Dennis Haysbert) tells the family this in the movie and it lines up with the Breakthrough true story. "Doctors told us that John wasn't going to live through the night," says Joyce Smith. Though his heartbeat had returned, John only had brainstem function and his blood oxygen levels were critical. Like in the movie, Joyce wouldn't let the doctors say anything negative in the room. It took almost 48 hours before John opened his eyes. Doctors believed that he would definitely have brain damage. They also predicted brain swelling, seizures and lung infections, but fortunately, their predictions never materialized.
"Right at an hour with absolutely no life in his body whatsoever," says Dr. Kent Sutterer, the doctor who was working in the ER the day that John was brought into SSM St. Joseph West Hospital. "A complete healing. He doesn't have any seizures. He doesn't have any neurologic deficits, all the things that we expect in these things. Nothing. He's completely the same boy that he was before." Dr. Sutterer had recognized John when he was brought into the ER because his daughter was in John's 8th grade class. -USA Today
His condition continued to improve, and on the tenth day, he was removed from the ventilator and was able to breath on his own. He was talking about three hours after that. "I'm thinking to myself, 'They're wrong. They're wrong. He has more than brainstem function, because he is looking around the room and he knows who people are. You know, God is restoring everything back to this child,'" recalls his mother, Joyce.
John was released from the hospital on February 4th, 16 days after rescuer Tommy Shine pulled him up from the bottom of the icy lake. It's true that like in the Breakthrough movie, John walked out of the hospital under his own strength. -CBN
Joyce wrote a book about her son John Smith's drowning and resurrection, titled The Impossible, which became the basis for the Breakthrough movie. As for John, he hopes to one day become a pastor.
"The only factors medically that were really in John's favor is that this was a cold-water drowning," said Dr. Jeremy Garrett (portrayed by Dennis Haysbert in the movie). He said that lowering the body temperature can preserve brain function, but that it "really shouldn't have worked in John's case." This is because the lake water was only 40 degrees and John's body temperature only dropped to 88 degrees, which isn't cold enough to adequately protect the brain.
"Usually you'd like it to be colder and you'd like the victim to be smaller actually," said Dr. Garrett, "because what you really need to have happen is for the brain to get cold before the blood flow stops to the brain. So, for John's brain to have gotten cold to be protected from the lack of blood flow and the lack of oxygen really is a miracle in itself, if that did anything here." -Cincinnati.com
Dive deeper into the true story behind Breakthrough by watching an interview with mother and son Joyce and John Smith. Then check out a demonstration of how to get out of the water after falling through the ice.