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

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>>

  • Spokane Police find body of teenage boy in Hangman Valley area

    Spokane Police find body of teenage boy in Hangman Valley area

    Wednesday, June 28 2017 7:46 PM EDT2017-06-28 23:46:32 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police say officers found the body of a teenage boy in the Hangman Valley area early Wednesday morning. Officer Ben Green would not give an exact location where the body was found, but did say family reported the boy missing earlier in the day. Officers would not officially identify the young man, but according to The Spokesman Review, who cited SPD, it appears he committed suicide. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police say officers found the body of a teenage boy in the Hangman Valley area early Wednesday morning. Officer Ben Green would not give an exact location where the body was found, but did say family reported the boy missing earlier in the day. Officers would not officially identify the young man, but according to The Spokesman Review, who cited SPD, it appears he committed suicide. 

    >>
  • Body found in SUV in downtown Spokane

    Body found in SUV in downtown Spokane

    Wednesday, June 28 2017 2:04 AM EDT2017-06-28 06:04:38 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police are investigating Tuesday after a body was found inside an SUV in a parking lot near 2nd and Division.  Details are limited, but heavy police activity was reported around 4 p.m.  KHQ's Patrick Erickson reports that people inside the SUV spotted an ambulance in the parking lot of the 7-11 store and asked for help. Paramedics found a man dead inside.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police are investigating Tuesday after a body was found inside an SUV in a parking lot near 2nd and Division.  Details are limited, but heavy police activity was reported around 4 p.m.  KHQ's Patrick Erickson reports that people inside the SUV spotted an ambulance in the parking lot of the 7-11 store and asked for help. Paramedics found a man dead inside.

    >>
  • Fairchild Airman found dead in dorm

    Fairchild Airman found dead in dorm

    Tuesday, June 27 2017 7:53 PM EDT2017-06-27 23:53:24 GMT

    FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. - An Airman assigned to the 92nd Air Refueling Wing was found dead in their dorm room Tuesday afternoon.  A representative from Fairchild Air Force Base says the airman was found at around 2 p.m. The cause of death is under investigation by the Air Force Office of Special investigations.

    >>

    FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. - An Airman assigned to the 92nd Air Refueling Wing was found dead in their dorm room Tuesday afternoon.  A representative from Fairchild Air Force Base says the airman was found at around 2 p.m. The cause of death is under investigation by the Air Force Office of Special investigations.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Self-proclaimed 'Spokane Spanker' found guilty of 8 counts of assault with sexual motivation

    Self-proclaimed 'Spokane Spanker' found guilty of 8 counts of assault with sexual motivation

    Wednesday, June 28 2017 10:10 PM EDT2017-06-29 02:10:57 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - The man arrested back in April after confessing to KHQ to sexually assaulting multiple women by slapping their backsides was found guilty on Wednesday. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - The man arrested back in April after confessing to KHQ to sexually assaulting multiple women by slapping their backsides was found guilty on Wednesday. The self-proclaimed "Spokane Spanker", 28-year-old Jonathan Smith, was charged with 11 counts of assault with sexual motivation in a string of Centennial Trail attacks this past spring.  

    >>
  • Post Falls family says they're gravely concerned for missing daughter

    Post Falls family says they're gravely concerned for missing daughter

    Wednesday, June 28 2017 9:59 PM EDT2017-06-29 01:59:25 GMT

    POST FALLS, Idaho - "We want you back home and we want you safe,” Dave Bennett said. An emotional plea from Dave Bennett. “You've got a whole family, literally thousands of people, not just your immediate family who are in grave concern for you right now and love you so much and are so worried about you,” he said. It’ll be two weeks this Friday since Bennett last saw his daughter. 

    >>

    POST FALLS, Idaho - "We want you back home and we want you safe,” Dave Bennett said. An emotional plea from Dave Bennett. “You've got a whole family, literally thousands of people, not just your immediate family who are in grave concern for you right now and love you so much and are so worried about you,” he said. It’ll be two weeks this Friday since Bennett last saw his daughter. 

    >>
  • Hayden man says he got himself arrested because he had nowhere else to go

    Hayden man says he got himself arrested because he had nowhere else to go

    Wednesday, June 28 2017 9:47 PM EDT2017-06-29 01:47:24 GMT

    KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho - After several run-ins with the law, Robert Fisher says he wanted to go back to jail because he wants to turn his life around. “I have people that I care about a lot and I can't be with them or take care of them," Fisher said. In the Kootenai County Jail, Fisher has had a lot of time to sit and reflect.

    >>

    KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho - After several run-ins with the law, Robert Fisher says he wanted to go back to jail because he wants to turn his life around. “I have people that I care about a lot and I can't be with them or take care of them," Fisher said. In the Kootenai County Jail, Fisher has had a lot of time to sit and reflect.

    >>