Michael Patterson was paralyzed earlier this month after he dived into a creek in an attempt to save a drowning girl, and on Friday the 43-year-old died from his injuries.
Patterson’s act of bravery became national news when after the Georgia man dived into the water after 4-year-old Javaeh Jones was pulled under by the creek’s current. Patterson, who was at the creek with his 9-year-old son, misjudged the water’s depth, hitting his head and breaking his neck in three places. He also severed his spine and was left paralyzed from the chest down.
Witnesses said Mike Patterson’s heroic act was able to help get the girl back to safety.
“They don’t know how (he saved her) [...] The little girl was at the bottom, but they saw something push her up,” a witness said. “They got the little girl and they didn’t realize what happened to Michael.”
But after three weeks in the hospital, Patterson developed respiratory acidosis, pneumonia, and a bacterial infection after the injury. Those medical problems, all stemming from his neck injury, were the cause of Patterson’s death, doctors said.
Many friends and well-wishers turned to a Facebook page that gave updates of Patterson’s condition and set up fundraisers to help pay for his medical care. At the time he was paralyzed Patterson had just started a job as a contractor and did not have medical insurance.
“Mike’s spirit and selfless actions inspired tens of thousands who sent cards, letters and emails and engaged in posts at the Friends of Mike Patterson Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Friendsofmikepatterson). His life and the lives of others are forever changed by his courageous, split-second decision to save another’s life. Mike’s tragic story made news headlines around the globe. His heroic act stirred an outpouring of emotion and a desire to help Mike in his time of need. His caring nature will forever be honored.”
Friends say Mike Patterson committed another heroic act just days before he was paralyzed. The week before his accident, Patterson and another friend pulled a truck driver from his cab as it caught fire.