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 JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    Saturday, July 26 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-07-26 04:07:59 GMT
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
  • 44 Riverside homes destroyed or damaged in storm

    44 Riverside homes destroyed or damaged in storm

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:46 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:46:53 GMT
    RIVERSIDE, Wash. - Many families were still at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Riverside High School in Riverside this morning.An afternoon storm destroyed or damaged 44 of their homes and knocked down close to 100 trees in Riverside Village Mobile Home Park.Many residents said the storm looked like a tornado as it swept through their neighborhood.>>
    RIVERSIDE, Wash. - Many families were still at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Riverside High School in Riverside this morning.An afternoon storm destroyed or damaged 44 of their homes and knocked down close to 100 trees in Riverside Village Mobile Home Park.Many residents said the storm looked like a tornado as it swept through their neighborhood.>>
  • Oregon woman missing since Thursday

    Oregon woman missing since Thursday

    Sunday, July 27 2014 4:57 PM EDT2014-07-27 20:57:54 GMT
    KHQ.COM - The small town of Dundee, OR is searching for a mother and wife who has been missing since Thursday. Family and friends are searching for 38 year old Jennifer Huston who was last scene at a gas station located in the southern area of Portland. Since then she has not contacted her family and police say there has been no credit card activity.>>
    KHQ.COM - The small town of Dundee, OR is searching for a mother and wife who has been missing since Thursday. Family and friends are searching for 38 year old Jennifer Huston who was last scene at a gas station located in the southern area of Portland. Since then she has not contacted her family and police say there has been no credit card activity.>>
  • Top Stories from KHQTop StoriesMore>>

  • IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: KHQ special, 'Behind the Fire Lines'

    IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: KHQ special, 'Behind the Fire Lines'

    Monday, July 28 2014 12:33 PM EDT2014-07-28 16:33:24 GMT
    KHQ.COM - For over a week, we've heard hundreds of heartbreaking stories from people who have lost everything, to those who refuse to let the firestorm break their spirits. From communities rallying together, to the heroes on the front lines, all that and more inside "Beyond the Fire Lines." If you missed it you can check out the videos inside this article.>>
    KHQ.COM - For over a week, we've heard hundreds of heartbreaking stories from people who have lost everything, to those who refuse to let the firestorm break their spirits. From communities rallying together, to the heroes on the front lines, all that and more inside "Beyond the Fire Lines." If you missed it you can check out the videos inside this article.>>
  • 3.6 earthquake shakes up central Puget Sound

    3.6 earthquake shakes up central Puget Sound

    Monday, July 28 2014 12:28 PM EDT2014-07-28 16:28:10 GMT
    SEATTLE (AP) - A 3.6 magnitude earthquake shook up the central Puget Sound area Monday morning. The U.S. Geological Survey reports the quake's epicenter was three miles east of Belfair and was located about 13.6 miles down. It hit just past 4 a.m. No damage was immediately reported.>>
    SEATTLE (AP) - A 3.6 magnitude earthquake shook up the central Puget Sound area Monday morning. The U.S. Geological Survey reports the quake's epicenter was three miles east of Belfair and was located about 13.6 miles down. It hit just past 4 a.m. No damage was immediately reported.>>
  • VIRAL VIDEO: Dog passes out from overwhelming joy at owners return

    VIRAL VIDEO: Dog passes out from overwhelming joy at owners return

    Monday, July 28 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-07-28 15:26:12 GMT
    KHQ.COM - A woman who left her dog in the care of friends while she moved away for two years, got an unexpected and heart melting reaction from her little schnauzer, Casey, when she returned. This video has gone viral since it was posted July 24th with over 17 million views as of July 28th.>>
    KHQ.COM - A woman who left her dog in the care of friends while she moved away for two years, got an unexpected and heart melting reaction from her little schnauzer, Casey, when she returned. This video has gone viral since it was posted July 24th with over 17 million views as of July 28th.>>