Mom of man found near river: ‘He’s still here for a reason’

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Emily Stark 120117_441710

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It was just after 9 a.m. Monday when Emily Stark got an unexpected call from authorities at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital.

“They called me and said, ‘You need to come down right now. It’s pretty dire. Come down immediately,’” she recounted.

Her son, 30-year-old Robert Campbell, had been rushed to the hospital after a Grand Valley State University groundskeeper found him unconscious near the edge of the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.

“He was — basically had horrible hypothermia,” Stark said.

But doctors worked fast to save him.

Four days after he was pulled from the frigid water Campbell was still hospitalized in critical condition and being kept alive by machines, according to Stark.

But Friday morning, he finally showed signs of responsiveness.

“(The doctors) are like, ‘Rob, Rob, can you hear me?’ And he opened his eyes. And they said, ‘Can you squeeze my hand?’ And he squeezed his hand,” Stark said, fighting away tears. “And there’s pretty much just elation of joy in that room. Because everybody thought he wasn’t going to make it.”

“It’s just miracle after miracle,” she added.

Exactly how or when Campbell ended up in the river is still a mystery.

Detectives with the Grand Rapids Police Department are treating the case as suspicious, per protocol, until they can rule out criminal activity. But they said Campbell had no signs of trauma.

Stark says her focus now is not on what brought her son to the hospital, but making sure he walks out of there.

“If somebody did something, only Rob knows what happened that night. I don’t know,” she said. “He’s still here for a reason and he’s going continue to be here.”

Campbell works in the IT department for Spectrum Health. Stark said it’s been a revolving door at his hospital room, with a constant flood of visitors and well-wishers.

Stark said she’s incredibly thankful for the support and also those who have donated to an online page Campbell’s boss created for his medical expenses.

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