EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WCCO) — On a winter night, most children are warm in their beds. But 10 years ago, a mother and father awoke to discover their 2-year-old was missing. He’d wandered out of their farmhouse near Eau Claire in the middle of the night.

By the time anyone realized the boy was missing, he was seemingly dead.

His body temperature had dropped to 60 degrees.  The human heart stops at 72.

So what happened next is what some consider a miracle. Others say it’s just the spirit inside a young boy named Paulie.

Growing up on a dairy farm, life’s lessons are all around. The work day starts early. Cows have to be milked. Heifers need to be fed.

Many hands make lighter work for Mark and Cindy Hynek. But the job’s not done until mom says so.

“Go get ready for school and we’ll see you later,” said Cindy. “Have a good day. Bye.”

Paulie Hynek is pretty much like any of his five brothers and sisters. Except for one thing that makes him different.

Paulie has learned one of the hardest lessons in life.

He died once.

“911 what’s your emergency,” said the operator in 2001.

“I got a little boy that went out in the middle of the night. And he went outside and I don’t know if he’s alive or dead,” Mark told the operator.

Little Paulie was just 2-years-old when he wandered outside looking for his mom while everyone was asleep. It was 2 degrees below zero when his dad found him lying in a snow bank at about 6:30 in the morning.

Paulie wasn’t breathing.

“He was lifeless. When I picked him up, he was limp,” said Mark.

“There’s nothin, there’s nothin’. I’ve lost my boy,” he told the 911 operator.

“We can help him. We can see if we can help him,” said the operator. “Sometimes the cold will slow down their system and we can help him.”

The Mayo Clinic medical helicopter got Paulie to the Luther Hospital in Eau Claire. And the emergency crew just wasn’t ready to give up on this young life.

“He was so profoundly cold,” said Brad Grewe, Director of the Emergency Room.

Even though there was no heartbeat, no breathing and no brain activity.

“You never really can pronounce somebody dead unless they’ve been warmed up,” said Grewe.

They started with warm fluids and IVs. Then Paulie’s blood was circulated through a heart-lung machine.

“You can explain parts of it through science,” said Robert Weichmann, the cardiac surgeon who was as surprised as anyone when Paulie’s heart came back to life.

“There had to be a miraculous event to allow this to happen and be what it is today,” said Weichmann. “There had to be some wonderful spirit inside this young boy.”

The 2-year old boy who survived a night in the cold is now a typical sixth-grader.

Doctors worried that his internal organs or brain might be damaged because blood flow had stopped for nearly three hours.

But today Paulie has got good grades and even plays on the football team.

In fact, aside from the incision doctors made in his chest, the only evidence he went through what he did is some minor damage to his hands.

“The end of my fingers here, the nerves they ain’t as strong as all the other ones,” he said. “This one was worse; this one was underneath my chest.”

“They wanted to see what 10 years would be like too. Then we could really see a big difference from 2 to 12,” said Mark. “And he’s perfect.”

“He was happy-go-lucky, fun, inventive and stuff like that,” said Cindy. “He’s the same kid now, I think, he was back then.”

And even though Paulie just celebrated turning 12 in January.

“We celebrate his life, or the life you know, life in general,” said Cindy. “We celebrate the anniversary. We call it Paulie’s anniversary.”

“We remember. Don’t forget,” said Mark.

“One night I woke up. I was looking for my mom and I didn’t know where she was. And then I went outside looking for her and I got too cold. And then I just died. And then the rest of it is history,” said Paulie.

To celebrate his life this Feb. 27, Paulie said he wants to go bowling.

Joan Gilbertson, Producer
Contact Joan

Comments (37)
  1. tiredandretired says:

    God is life. The miracle of this boy’s life being restored bears testimony to this fact.

    1. Jeepneasy says:

      No it isn’t! It is just YOUR beliefs that influence you to THINK it is.
      No? Prove it…can’t?
      Then tell me what testimony is being beared by all the boys who actually froze to death in the same situation? Same god, different results? He sure is mysterious.

      But I sure am glad science was there for him!!
      Live long frozen boy…

      1. JamieinMN says:

        Exactly! Explain that one bible thumpers.

      2. Pat says:

        Eternity is a long time and whether you believe it or not you will be spending it somewhere, I personally prefer Heaven.

      3. vikingfan4ever says:

        Same God, different science. The level of care and the length of exposure all weigh heavy on the outcome. Open your mind and your heart. Maybe go to church.

  2. Kwai Chang Caine says:

    Bears hybernate all the time!, But of couse God must of had a hand in This!, There simply is NO place for science!

    1. Master Po says:

      God is the ultimate scientist…think about it…

  3. Lovingmother says:

    Why must this be a fight about religion? Why cant we just say, YAY!! And it’s great to see him alive and healthy. Just leave religion out of it and be happy for Paulie and be happy for his parents who didnt have to bury a child. ALL AS A MOTHER I KNOW ALL THAT MATTERS IS, THE FACT THAT PAULIE IS ALIVE AND HEALTHY!!!

    1. Jody says:

      I agree. Why does this beautiful story of hope with a happy ending have to be followed by argumentative discussion posts? THIS is what is wrong with the world today. A story that ends well with a boy alive and people arguing over how he was saved. The point is not how, but the fact that he was, that matters. I am so happy to read this unbelievable miracle story and am glad to hear that Paulie is doing well today!

    2. Chelsey Little says:

      Agreed! This boy is ALIVE! That is the real point, not anything else. He is alive, celebrate that, leave the religion out.

  4. Angie Northrop says:

    The boy survived and that’s all that matters

  5. Mike Hunt says:

    It’s just a good story, not God VS Science. These are the arguments that are wrecking our world. Let people view it the way they want. Without science the boy would probably be worm food. Without God we’re all going to be worm food.

  6. Ann Birdd says:

    As a family member, we choose to believe that God has an amazing plan for this little boy! As tragedy has truck this family several times in the past, we believe that God showed us that he is real. His power along with the teamwork of all the medical people, this life was saved. I remember the team saying that morning, that things never usually go that smoothly. It was like someoone else was doing the work. Remember God is with the Doctors when they are working, and the spirit was inside Paulie. Just Right!

    1. Randy says:

      Amen Ann. I believe God was in control of the situation. God truly does work in ways that we can’t even begin to understand. I believe he performs mericles each and every day, and Paulie was touched by the hand of God that morning, as are the many hundreds of people who have heard of his miricle.

    2. They Saved me Too! says:

      I also was saved as a child, and should be dead. I remember all of it with much detail. To make a long story short, I have to cut out a lot of details. As I lay there in bed left to die, my tiny little soul was taken up to heaven by an angel. I was directed to a man sitting in a metallic looking throne. I stumbled up and ask him why he didn’t care. He took me in his arms and cried. I spend a lot of time with this particular man. Him and others watched over me, fed me, etc… kept me alive.

  7. red says:

    This is a wonderfu,l heart warming story. Jeepneasy do you have to ruin it?

  8. Rob Wagner says:

    Jeepneasy, loved the comment. So true, good day.

  9. If you can't say anything nice... says:

    Just because you don’t believe in anything doesn’t mean you have to chastise anyone who does. Stop turning everything into stupid politics! And stop discriminating against Christians. There’s a thing called freedom of religion. LET IT GO and just enjoy the story! I can’t believe how many angry, hateful people there are in this state.

    1. vikingfan4ever says:

      awesome statement.! wonder what jeepineasy & jamieinMN do when they face a crisis. at least the “bible thumpers” have somewhere to turn, and something they dont, belief & hope

  10. TruthSeeker says:

    One day everyone will know that God is the creator of science. Science belongs to Him, and we as humans cannot fully understand it. Some humans are very misled and think that science = decending from monkeys. But all will be made right one day.

  11. Evin says:

    In these days of unrest in the middle east, poor economy world-wide, wars, unemployment and religious strife, it is a good reminder there is still good news. This is a reminder of how a horrible situation turned good. Anyone who is a parent, cheers for the life of that little boy!

  12. linda says:

    To almost have lost a son & then let him play football? Saw a show the other day- do you realize how many high school young men are hurt & paralyzed from the waist down? It’s one thing to hear about them but really shocking to hear their voices & see them in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives. Pro athletes will be taken care of but these families have to struggle to get the wheel chair van, etc, needed to care for them for the rest of their lives. Such a senseless way to paralyze yourself.

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