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Alex Searles: Nearly Killed at Age Two

By Raquel Dunn
The 700 Club“When you get a phone call at 1 o’clock in the morning, you expect the worst. My wife answered it and all I can remember is we were in bed and she just sunk and she just said something like, ‘Oh my God. Alex had been beaten to near death,’” said Bill Searles, Alex’s grandfather.

Bill and Sherry Searles had a good relationship with their daughter-in-law, Kelly. When she cut off communication with them while their son was fighting in Iraq, they became concerned for their grandchildren, Alex and Ashley.

“I would speak hours with her on the phone and make sure the kids were all right, she was all right - because she was in California by herself and I knew this was the first time she was by herself. She was under a lot of stress,” Sherry said.

“We never saw any indication of abuse. We saw a failure of what we thought was just poor parenting skills. But we never saw any reason to think that she would hurt Alex,” Bill said. “But when we arrived in September, she was gone and the house was in disarray. She had locked the dogs up in 120 degree heat in the house and it was pretty bad. When you see previously the poor parenting skills, you see the house and then you kind of put the puzzle together that you’ve got a problem here - you’re worried for the kids.”

The Searles filed a report with Children's Protective Services (CPS). They began to track the children down on their own too.

“Kelly was known to just give them to people,” Sherry said, “whoever would watch them, so she could go off for several hours. We thought, ‘Who are they with? Who is taking care of them?’ So we had a deep concern.”

Eventually CPS located the children in a small town in Texas. Officials told the Searles everything was fine, but a private investigator the couple had hired discovered something disturbing.

“The children were being put in the care of the boyfriend. She was leaving them with him and from all indications of the video, they spent four hours in a car - four hours locked up in a car,” Bill said.

Not long after, the Searles got a phone call that would change their lives. Their 2-year-old grandson, Alex, was in a hospital fighting for his life.

“He’s been airlifted to the hospital. He’s in very bad shape and they don’t expect him to make it,” Bill said.

Immediately the Searles headed for the hospital in Lubbock, Texas. Doctor Tom McGill was one of the first to see Alex when he arrived.

“He had bruises in different areas of his body. He looked like he had some old burns. He had a deformity in his forearms that looked like maybe they had been broken in the past. So he looked pretty classically to be a child that may have been abused,” Dr. McGill said. “He needed full life support when he first arrived.”

Nothing could have prepared the Searles for what they saw when they reached Alex’s side.

“He was kind of propped up in bed, not really moving. He was bandaged up from head to toe practically. His arms were both in splints,” Sherry said. “I went over and his eyes, it was hard to describe, his eyes were dark, real black; and I think he recognized me but everywhere I tried to touch him I could tell he would flinch. He was just in so much pain. And I asked the nurses, ‘Is he hurting?’ And they said, ‘Yes. The only place you can touch him is his forehead.’ And I just tried to calm him rubbing his head the best I could. And they changed his little diaper and I could see where he had cigarette burns and his backside was solid black. I’d never seen bruising so bad.”

“They told us it would be six months if he’d breathe on his own, if he lives; and if he lives he’d probably 80 percent chance he’d be a vegetable,” Bill said. “They overall only gave him a 10 to30 percent chance of survival.”

The Searles did the only thing they knew to do.

“I had been praying over him the whole time,” Sherry said. “I knew there were a lot of God’s people, we had been told, nationwide, had been praying for him. And so we prayed over him.”

“We were both together and we put our hands on him and just said a simple prayer,” Bill said. “We said, ‘Dear Lord, please heal Alex. Please bring him back to us - in Jesus’ name we pray Amen. Now, you’ve got to picture - we had all sorts of wires, all sorts of tubes, alarms going off - his vitals, his physical vitals were all over the place. He was degrading; he was going downhill and we said this prayer and he trembled.”

Almost instantly, Alex’s body began healing. Within days, he was taken off the respirator and slowly began communicating. Even Alex’s broken arms were transformed.

“They came in, like a week later, x-rayed him and then the cast disappeared. They just took them off and his arms were fine,” Bill said.

“We’ve had three or four babies in the last year that have come in with similar types of injuries that have died,” Dr. McGill said. “There’s just not much we can do for them at the time that they come in. He was here for two and a half, three weeks - that’s very significant, pretty rapid recovery time for those types of injuries.”

Ten days after the Searles prayer, they took Alex to Florida with them to start rehabilitation at a nearby hospital. Less than a month later, they took him home for good. Today he continues healing through occupational therapy. 

The Searles’ ex-daughter-in-law is now in jail while her boyfriend is still awaiting trial. Since Alex and Ashley’s dad couldn’t be home with them fulltime, Bill and Sherry adopted the children. The couple is grateful to God for answered prayers and the chance to see Alex grow up. 

“You are only left with your faith at that point, when you realize the doctors and the machines have done all they can do,” Bill said. “You pull the rip chord, and in this case God touched him and He healed him.”

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