SPRING HILL — Six days after their son was found unresponsive in the family pool, Andres and Crystal Yepes posted a Facebook update on the 18-month-old boy's fight for life.
Logan Yepes was still on a ventilator. But on that day, Oct. 8, the little boy moved his fingers and breathed slightly on his own.
"We hold onto these moments and consider them miracles, because when he came in here, he was as close to death as anyone could be," the post on the social media website said. "We know that the circle of prayers is what is helping little Logan, so please keep praying."
Over three weeks, the boy's "friends" list would grow to more than 740. Many are family members and friends, but others have never met the couple or their three sons. They all want to follow the boy's progress, pray for him, or both.
They post inspirational messages and photos, and shower the daily updates with words of encouragement. They organized a carwash at a Spring Hill auto parts store to raise money for the family. At 9 p.m. Oct. 9, they lighted candles and prayed, wherever they were at the time.
The Yepes family has declined through an All Children's Hospital spokesman to speak to the media, but they encouraged reporters to go to the Facebook page. The family gave the Tampa Bay Times permission to publish information on the page.
"It is so amazing how people are coming together to pray for him and are spreading it though the world!" Crystal wrote to the Times in a recent Facebook message. "Even people from Germany and Israel wrote me and were praying!"
About 5 p.m. Oct. 2, Logan fell into the pool behind the family's tidy, single-story, Florida-style home in Sterling Hill. He was rushed to Oak Hill Hospital in Spring Hill and soon transferred to All Children's in St. Petersburg. Doctors weren't sure he would make it through the night, according to early Facebook posts.
Since then, he has emerged from an induced coma, and physicians removed a ventilator. Last week, surgeons inserted a tube in his throat to help keep his airways free of mucous and a feeding tube in his stomach.
The brown-eyed toddler with the wispy brown hair has cried out when physical therapists move his tiny limbs. He responded to a hearing test. During a smell test, he stuck out his tongue, seeking the source of the vanilla odor.
It was two weeks before Crystal was finally able to hold in her arms the boy she and her husband call their "little chicken nugget."
The troubling question, still unanswered, is the extent of any brain damage. A brain scan didn't produce conclusive results.
"It really depends on Logan and how he does with responding to things," Crystal posted on Oct. 12. "As of now he is moving his muscles and opening his eyes. He cannot see us, but it is a small step. The next few weeks are going to help determine what he will be able to do."
Crystal stays at the hospital most of the time while Andres stays home caring for the couple's two older sons, Preston and Dylan. Last week, the parents switched places for a few days.
"As I watch you sleep, I thank God for the opportunity he has given me of having you in my life," Andres wrote in a post. "You and your brothers have always made me want to be a better person and love the world we live in. Sleep well, my son. I will be here by your bedside guarding your dreams."
The next day, after putting Dylan and Preston to bed, Crystal walked by Logan's empty room and broke down.
"I'm a mess," she posted a short time later. "When this happened I only prayed for my baby to live. Now I pray for him to recover and have a healthy normal life. Why did this have to happen to him and not me? I would do anything to be in his place so he could be running around laughing and playing with his brothers."
A week later, the family got encouraging news. Hospital staffers would soon begin to train them to take care of Logan at home. On Halloween, he was moved out of the intensive care unit to a different part of the hospital. That day, Crystal took Preston and Dylan trick-or-treating.
Andres shared how the outpouring of support has been a silver lining to a heart-wrenching ordeal.
"This incident has forever changed my perception of people, life and the world in general," he wrote. "I will NEVER forget all of the LOVE and support that you are all offering my son! I will devote myself to making a difference in this world and changing it for the better in every way that I can, and with every piece of my heart, soul and mind!"
Reach Tony Marrero at email@example.com or (352) 848-1431.