A Georgia man who was paralyzed after jumping into a creek to save a young girl from drowning earlier this month has died.
Michael Patterson, 43, died early Friday due to complications following the June 8 incident. Patterson severed his spinal cord when he leapt into the swift-moving Euharlee Creek along the Silver Comet Trail in Rockmart, Ga., to save Javea Jones, a 4-year-old girl whom he had never met. Jones survived, but Patterson suffered several injuries in addition to being paralyzed from the shoulders down, including respiratory acidosis, pneumonia and a bacterial infection.
“After a valiant battle, Mike succumbed to his injuries and related complications early this morning,” a Facebook page dedicated to Patterson reads. “Mike’s family was by his side at the time of his death.”
The family later announced his funeral would be held Sunday and asked for privacy, with no media attending.
Tens of thousands of people sent cards, letters and emails to Patterson and his relatives during his 20 days of recovery following the incident.
“His life and the lives of others are forever changed by his courageous, split-second decision to save another’s life,” a post on the Facebook page continued. “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.”
Attempts to reach Patterson’s relatives were unsuccessful early Friday. Earlier this month, Patterson’s stepfather vowed that his son would walk again.
“He is an angel, a 100 percent hero and an angel,” Ricky Robinson told FoxNews.com. “It’s going to take time, but Michael is a fighter, so yeah, he will walk again one day.”
Patterson’s 9-year-old son, Michael Cole Patterson, witnessed the accident and was so distraught earlier this month that Robinson said he hadn’t fully grasped the extent of his father’s injuries.
Robinson said he was “not a bit” surprised that his stepson sacrificed his own well-being to save a stranger. Just two weeks earlier, Patterson rescued a trucker whose tanker overturned on State Route 278, pulling the man from his rig before it burst into flames.
“Like I said, he’s an angel,” Robinson said earlier this month. “He’s always had a big heart. He loves life and people.”
Funeral arrangements for Patterson have not yet been finalized.
Anyone wishing to donate funds to a trust established in Patterson's name can send monies to: Friends of Mike Patterson Trust, 210 E. 2nd Ave., Suite 205, Rome, Georgia 30161.