An outpouring of financial and emotional support is coming to a Georgia dad who was paralyzed when he dove head-first into a creek to save a 4-year-old girl who was drowning in a lake last week.
Mike Patterson, 40, was at the Rockmart Dam in Rockmart, Ga., with his son on June 8 when he heard the screams of 4-year-old Javaeh Jones' mother after her daughter had fallen into the lake. The girl was playing in the water when she waded into an area over her head and was swept away by a current, according to the gofundme.org page set up for Patterson.
Once he saw that the girl was in serious danger while struggling in the water, Patterson dove in after her.
"He has always been like that - someone else first," Vickie Jones Roberson, Patterson's mother, told ABC News affiliate WSB-TV.
Patterson struck his head during the dive. He broke his neck in three places and severed his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed, according to the gofundme.com page. He was floating face down in the water and unconscious approximately three minutes before anyone realized what had happened.
He was soon pulled to the shore by bystanders, but was not breathing when emergency medical personnel arrived. Members of the emergency medical service crew performed CPR on Patterson, and he was transported to Redmond Regional Medical Center.
Javaeh was rescued from the water and was able to be resuscitated, according to a Facebook page set up in Patterson's honor.
Patterson had just started a new contracting job two weeks prior to the incident, and he is now facing thousands of dollars in medical bills with no insurance, Roberson said.
As of Thursday, the GoFundMe.com page had topped $25,000 in donations. Roberson said she was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support for her son.
"I did not realize that there was still kindness in this world like there is," she said. "I kind of thought the world had grown cold until this happened to my son."
Doctors and family were watching Patterson's condition closely, according to a Facebook post on Thursday, which said he seemed to have taken a turn for the worse as he began experiencing breathing problems. The doctors were doing everything they could to address it, according to the post.