Hero Paralyzed After Rescuing 4-Year-Old From Drowning - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Hero Paralyzed After Rescuing 4-Year-Old From Drowning

Posted: Updated:

NBCNEWS.COM - When Michael Patterson spotted a 4-year-old drowning in a local Rockmart, Ga., swimming hole, he didn't hesitate before jumping in to save her. But Patterson's heroic dive, made on June 8, has landed him in the hospital — still in critical condition and paralyzed from the waist down from spine injuries and three broken bones in his neck.

"I just did what I would hope anybody else would've done for me," he told his mother, Vicki Jones, in his hospital room at Redmond Regional Medical Center in nearby Rome, Ga.

Patterson and his 9-year-old son, Cole, were spending an afternoon together along the Euharlee Creek, as they've done for years, when the 43-year-old father heard a mother screaming for help, Jones told TODAY.com. The creek's swift current was carrying the woman's 4-year-old child away, according to the police report.

A strong swimmer, Patterson jumped in and saved the girl, but the water was apparently too shallow to cushion his dive. Bystanders found him face down in the water moments after the rescue, and paramedics rushed him to the hospital, where he fell into a coma. "He drowned," his mother said.

It was touch and go at first, but Patterson is known in his family as a "fighter."

"I don't want to die, I want to live," Jones said her son mumbled to her from his hospital bed.

On Tuesday, Patterson was taken off his respirator and started breathing normally on his own. But by Wednesday evening, his health took a turn for the worse when bacteria-filled creek water in his lungs triggered a case of pneumonia.

"Mike had a very hard night and has some huge hurdles that we had hoped were behind us," a friend posted to a Facebook page set up in his honor. "Mike is back on the ventilator, in a medically induced coma, and has pneumonia in both lungs. His sweet mom is sitting by his bed, holding his hand and praying for a miracle and that he is in no pain right now."

Jones was never surprised her son risked his life for another human — it's a habit of his. Just last month he and another man pulled a truck driver to safety from the flames of his crashed 18-wheeler.

"It scared me to death," Jones said. "I said, ‘Son, your heart is bigger than your body, you helping like this is going to get you killed.'"

While Patterson has received much recognition for his heroic deeds from news outlets and strangers alike, the timing of his hospital visit couldn't be more difficult for him and his family. Patterson's new job doesn't provide health insurance, so the family is struggling to scrape together funds to get him transported to the Shepherd Center, an Atlanta nonprofit hospital specializing in spinal cord rehabilitation.

Friends and family have received support and kind words from people around the globe on the Facebook page they created for Patterson. Jones, whose own husband is also in the hospital battling Stage IV cancer, broke into tears when she described one man who offered to donate his own brand-new wheelchair to her son.

"I was at that point where you get to thinking that you don't have any blessings to count; I had lost my faith in people," she said. "I'm thankful to everyone who has helped him. People all over the world have responded unbelievably."

Doctors have told Jones that her son could remain paralyzed from the waist down, with some movement in his right arm, for the rest of his life. Patterson isn't quite aware of this yet: After suffering from a concussion, he still hasn't been able to digest the full extent of his paralysis. But Jones remains hopeful that her active child will one day walk again.

"This is his worst nightmare," she said. "But he has a heart of gold, and I do know with all my heart that he's not going to give up."

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • PHOTOS: Priest Lake lots auctioned off

    PHOTOS: Priest Lake lots auctioned off

    Thursday, August 28 2014 8:46 PM EDT2014-08-29 00:46:58 GMT
    PRIEST LAKE, Idaho - 61 cottages sites on Priest Lake were auctioned off in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday. >>
    PRIEST LAKE, Idaho - 61 cottages sites on Priest Lake were auctioned off in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday. For years, those already living on the sites leased the land from the State of Idaho, but the State was looking to sell. Residents already living on the sites showed up on Thursday to buy them back, and many were successful. 


    >>
  • Viral Video: Little boy's hysterical response to mother's pregnancy

    Viral Video: Little boy's hysterical response to mother's pregnancy

    Friday, August 29 2014 10:29 AM EDT2014-08-29 14:29:39 GMT
    KHQ.COM - When Shanee Gibson Hart of Fort Lewis, Washington, shared the news about her pregnancy with her son, Tré, she thought he would be thrilled. Instead, his reaction was a little different than expected. "This is exasperating!" Tré exclaimed. "Why you want to get another baby?...That doesn't make no sense!">>
    KHQ.COM - When Shanee Gibson Hart of Fort Lewis, Washington, shared the news about her pregnancy with her son, Tré, she thought he would be thrilled. Instead, his reaction was a little different than expected. "This is exasperating!" Tré exclaimed. "Why you want to get another baby?...That doesn't make no sense!"
    >>
  • Priest Lake Auction: Saying goodbye to home

    Priest Lake Auction: Saying goodbye to home

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 10:50 PM EDT2014-08-28 02:50:23 GMT
    PRIEST LAKE, Idaho - After years of obstacles for 61 Priest Lake lot lessees, the end comes on Thursday, August 28th. >>
    PRIEST LAKE, Idaho - After years of obstacles for 61 Priest Lake lot lessees, the end comes on Thursday, August 28th. People who have been leasing land from the state, some more than 40 years, will find out if they get to keep their property in an auction.Back in 2010, the State of Idaho decided to divest more than 300 lake lots on Priest Lake.
    >>
  • Top Stories from KHQTop StoriesMore>>

  • Suspected gunman manages to elude police after hospital lockdown

    Suspected gunman manages to elude police after hospital lockdown

    Saturday, August 30 2014 2:13 AM EDT2014-08-30 06:13:33 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash.- A suspected gunman managed to elude police Friday night after a chase that took officers from the Rite Aid on N. Division to Holy Family Hospital on E. Rowan. It all started around 7:30pm Friday night, when police say a man was seen trying to steal items from the Rite Aid.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash.- A suspected gunman managed to elude police Friday night after a chase that took officers from the Rite Aid on N. Division to Holy Family Hospital on E. Rowan. It all started around 7:30pm Friday night, when police say a man was seen trying to steal items from the Rite Aid. >>
  • Detached garage goes up in flames

    Detached garage goes up in flames

    Saturday, August 30 2014 2:13 AM EDT2014-08-30 06:13:05 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash.- Spokane fire investigators are looking into what caused a detached garage to catch fire Friday night. It happened around 9:30pm at a home near the intersection of East Rowan and North Magnolia. Fire crews had the fire under control about 15 minutes after they arrived on scene, and by 10:00pm the fire was completely out.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash.- Spokane fire investigators are looking into what caused a detached garage to catch fire Friday night. It happened around 9:30pm at a home near the intersection of East Rowan and North Magnolia. Fire crews had the fire under control about 15 minutes after they arrived on scene, and by 10:00pm the fire was completely out.
    >>
  • Scammers pretend to be the IRS

    Scammers pretend to be the IRS

    Friday, August 29 2014 10:00 PM EDT2014-08-30 02:00:56 GMT
    It was Ben Franklin said in this world nothing is certain, except death and taxes, but it looks like you can add scammers to that saying. Every year, people pretend to be the IRS to swindle people out of their money. >>
    It was Ben Franklin said in this world nothing is certain, except death and taxes, but it looks like you can add scammers to that saying. Every year, people pretend to be the IRS to swindle people out of their money. >>