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19-year-old expected to fully recover after nearly drowning in Lake Tahoe

RENO, Nev. -- Two weeks after nearly drowning near Sand Harbor, 19-year-old Jake Blackmon is expected to fully recover.

Jake was in Tahoe on vacation with a friend. The day before they were supposed to go home to Houston, he nearly drowned. It is a story that could have ended much differently if the people at the beach that day had not acted quickly.

"Right before we boarded the airplane in Houston, I called the doctor get an update and I'll never forget he told me that they would try to keep his heart beating until we got here," said Keith Blackmon, Jake's dad.

Jake's parents did not know if their son would survive nearly drowning in Lake Tahoe. Neither did the people who helped save him at Sand Harbor two weeks ago. "At the time when we were looking at him on the beach, I didn't think there was a chance," said Joe Woodman.

But Woodman, a registered nurse, happened to be in the right place at the right time: at the lake, paddleboarding. "Joe really did almost the impossible," Keith said. "He went down 20 feet and pulled him off the bottom and threw him on the kayak. That whole thing was just amazing."

Woodman and others on the water were able to get Jake help before he even got to shore. "From the time he came out of the water to CPR was probably less than 45-50 seconds," Woodman said.

Then, emergency medical personnel took over on the beach. Jake's doctor Bruce Denney said those seconds were critical. "He got such a quick response, that made all the difference in recovering his brain function."

Jake's mom LaNay said her son has surprised Renown staff every day. "Jacob made a surprising and amazing recovery," Dr. Denney said.

LaNay said it is a miracle. "It was like it was rehearsed and I believe God hand-picked them to be on the beach that day."

Woodman is thankful he was there to help. "I am so glad to see Jake open his eyes and to talk to me," he said. "That was the crowning moment. That was so wonderful."

The Blackmons said they now have an extended family in Nevada. "I think we'll be lifelong friends with a lot of them," Keith said. "He's already planning our trip back next year," LaNay said.

The Blackmons are headed back to Houston on Friday. Jake will continue his recovery there. You can follow his journey through Caring Bridge.