Georgia man paralyzed after saving 4-year-old from drowning

Cole and Mike Patterson

My dad, one of my two heroes growing up, taught me there are those who say and those who do. When a helpless 4-year-old girl was in danger of drowning, Michael Patterson proved himself to be very much in the latter as he dove from a dam in northwest Georgia to save little Jevaeh Jones.

The 43-year-old was spending time with his son Cole at Euharlee Creek on Saturday, a place he was very familiar with, when Jevaeh was swept underwater by a strong current. Patterson reacted without hesitation as he literally leaped into action. Michael’s mother Vicki said:

“(Carlisa Jones – the mother of Jevaeh) hollered ‘There goes my baby!’ and Michael just dove in. They said he dove a deep dive in a shallow area. Even though the creek was deep, it was only about five or six feet. As hard as he dove and as deep as he dove … he dove too deep.”

Doctors have told Vicki that during the rescue her son broke his neck in three places and severed his spine. The injuries have tragically left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Jevaeh Jones
 Jevaeh Jones

“They don’t know how he saved her,” Vicki told The Rockmart Journal. “The little girl was at the bottom, but they saw something push her up. They got the little girl and they didn’t realize what happened to Michael.”

Carlissa Jones told FOX Atlanta, “He’s a godsend basically. He was there. He was supposed to have been there.”

Approximately 3 minutes after Jevaeh was rescued bystanders noticed Patterson floating face-down in the water. After retrieving him from the creek, a 911 call was made just before 4PM local time. Patterson is now at the Intensive Care Unit of Redmond Regional Medical Center. He got a job as a contractor two weeks before the incident and has no insurance.

“He’s been on life support. They did take the ventilator and everything out (on Monday) and he is breathing on his own… The doctor told me that what I see now, I know he can only give me a medical (response) … but he said what we see now is probably as good as it’s going to get. But I’m praying he’s wrong,” his mother Vicki said.

Remarkably, this was the second time in just two weeks that Patterson had put a stranger’s well-being ahead of his own. He had recently witnessed a tractor-trailer t-bone an SUV at an intersection in Rockmart. Michael made sure there were no children in the SUV, and asked the woman in that car to remain as he and another man raced towards the truck.

“They kind of shook the man to see if they could get him up, and they got the man out of the truck and down the embankment — it was a fully loaded gasoline tanker — before anything caught on fire,” his mom said. One of the police who responded to the creek was also at the scene of the wreck.


Friends have set up a Facebook page in hopes of raising money to assist with Michael’s medical bills as well as an account at a local bank. As if this horrific outcome wasn’t enough, Vicki’s husband has been battling Stage IV cancer and will have part of his tongue and larynx removed in the coming days at Emory University Hospital.

Vicki stated softly through tears:

“Michael is such a good person. He always put … he thinks of other people before he thought of himself. That’s just his nature. His heart’s bigger than he is. Please, please pray for Michael. Please pray for my baby.”

My other hero growing up as a kid was Michael Jordan. I couldn’t help but think of that and his popular slogan “Be Like Mike” after reading and then writing this post about Michael Patterson. My thoughts are with Michael, his son, his mom, his family and friends.

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