John Smith was a teen when he fell through an icy Missouri lake four years ago and his heart stopped beating for 43 minutes. This year, Twentieth Century Fox is retelling the story on the big screen—as well as the story of the two doctors who helped save Smith’s life.
“Breakthrough” recounts Smith’s fall and his startling recovery. The then-teen was stuck in the lake for 15 minutes; many did not think he would live. Yet the St. Louis-area resident was retrieved from the ice, taken to SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital-Lake St. Louis where he was stabilized by their emergency department, then airlifted to SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. Just days later he left the Cardinal hospital with minimal side effects, surprising many.
“At 43 minutes, I was not hopeful at all that he would come back,” St. Joseph Hospital’s Dr. Kent Sutterer told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I was anticipating explaining to his mom that efforts were futile from this point forward.”
The movie is based on a book of the same name about the incident, written by Smith’s mother, Joyce.
Fox hosted a screening of “Breakthrough” and a red carpet at a St. Louis County theater on April 17 attended by John Smith; Chrissy Metz of “This is Us,” who plays Joyce Smith; Marcel Ruiz, who plays Smith in the movie; and the two physicians who cared for John four years ago—Sutterer and Dr. Jeremy Garrett from Cardinal Glennon.