Thomas Vander Woude died for his son.
… Thomas Vander Woude made a decision: He would hold his breath, dive under the sewage and lift Josie onto his shoulders. When rescuers finally arrived, they pulled Josie out of the tank; he was alive. But Vander Woude, 66 years old, was dead.
He had made the deliberate decision to risk drowning in sewage in order to save the life of his child.
Josie’s oldest brother, who is also named Thomas, told me that the physicians treating Josie were stunned to see a person survive 20 minutes in a septic tank. “It is one of the many miracles we have experienced,” he said.
One of his sons describes their father.
The Rev Vander Woude, a placid man with a gentle smile, describes his father as someone who trained himself for virtue and who possessed a rare and crucial understanding about the nature of happiness. He knew that joy is best found not in the pursuit of pleasure but in the execution of responsibility.