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SALT LAKE CITY — For the past six months, Primary Children’s Hospital, has been Cannon Cooper’s home. The 15 year-old boy fell nearly 40 feet into an ice cave on June 12th, while on a young men’s activity with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
“Cannon went into a patch of snow, that was actually a hole,” Cannon’s father, Dustin Cooper explained. “Two of the leaders attended to him, using the priesthood, and the rest of the boys started using their scouting skills. One of the boys had an impressive survivor kit with him.”
Cooper believes that immediate response is what made all the difference in his son’s recovery, and likely in saving his life. He was out with his wife when he got a call from his bishop from church.
“They made a gurney for him, to get him out of the cave,” Cooper said. “One of the leaders ran about 20 minutes to a vehicle, to drive another 20 minutes down the road to get lifeflight there.”
Cooper and his wife arrived at McKay Dee Hospital, as the helicopter landed.
“I had to walk away to catch my composure, and not get in their way,” Cooper recalled. “Lifeflight, the ones that come in from Idaho pulled me to the side, and let me know that if it weren’t for the boys and the leaders that were there, that he wouldn’t have been nearly in the condition he was.”
Cannon was later flown to Primary Children’s, where he’s been ever since. His prognosis early on wasn’t great.
“We kept on hearing things like, he will never walk, he will never talk,” Cooper started. “He would never play the piano, he would never play the cello, he would never be able to communicate with his brothers and sisters”
Despite those odds, Cannon continues to check things off that list. Videos, posted on the family’s Facebook page, Cannon CAN, show Cannon walking, talking, and even throwing and trying to catch objects.
“He’s surpassed everything they said he wasn’t going to do, and he’s still moving forward,” Cooper said. “Every couple of weeks we see dramatic changes to where it’s a different kid, different scenario.”
Cannon’s mother, Lu Ann Cooper told KSL she credits much of his improvement to the faith and prayers of the community around them. Dustin Cooper describes seeing that progress has been better than Christmas morning.
“It’s gratifying to see it,” Cooper said. “Definitely uplifting our spirits.”
Cannon’s parents plan to surprise their son Thursday morning, with news that he’s finally going home. During his time in the hospital, they say their friends and neighbors have stepped up, helping take care of their seven other children, allowing them to be at Primary Children’s with Cannon.
“It’s been phenomenal to see how our neighbors have come together to support our family,” Cooper said. “The community I think is what’s helped the most in this.”
Cooper says the ones who perhaps deserve the most credit, are the young men who were there with Cannon after the fall.
“Most people would be panicked in that situation,” Cooper said. “They did what they needed to do.”
He says they rushed to his side, using their scouting skills to build a gurney, and safely get him out of the cold, wet cave. He says one boy in particular, was well-prepared, and that he’d always bring extra gear, just in case of an emergency.
“I’d tease him about carrying that backpack around with him. It had to weigh about 30 pounds,” Cooper recalled. Not anymore. “I told him if anyone ever teases him again, to send him my direction.”