ROCKMART, Ga. — A northwest Georgia man paralyzed after diving into a creek to save a 4-year-old girl from drowning nearly three weeks ago has died from complications resulting from his injuries, authorities said Friday.
Polk County Coroner Trey Litesey confirmed that Michael Patterson, 43, of Rockmart, died early Friday at Redmond Regional Medical Center in Rome.
A message to supporters posted on a Web site to raise money for Patterson’s medical treatment said his family was with him when he died.
Patterson was hailed as a hero after authorities credited him with rescuing a girl he saw vanish in Euharlee Creek on June 8.
Patterson’s 9-year-old son watched him dive in, and witnesses told police he managed to pull the girl from the water. But Patterson also struck his head during the dive and ended up severing his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed.
“It is such a sad story,” said Rockmart Police Chief Keith Sorrells. “They told our officer on Day 1 that there was only a 50-50 chance he would make it.”
Though the exact cause of death was unclear, Sorrells said Patterson had contracted pneumonia along with a bacterial infection and had suffered a blood clot since arriving at the hospital.
After he was injured, Patterson’s mother said he had just taken a job installing sheet rock and did not have health insurance. A group called the Friends of Mike Patterson Trust launched a Web site to raise money for his medical care. It wasn’t known Friday how much money the group raised.
Patterson’s funeral is scheduled for Sunday in Cedartown, with a visitation Saturday. The trust said his family was requesting privacy during both.