A man being hailed as a hero for saving a 4-year-old girl from drowning in a Georgia creek remains in the Redmond Regional Medical Center's Intensive Care Unit after becoming paralyzed from the waist down during the rescue.

Michael Patterson was at Euharlee Creek near Rockmart last Saturday with his 9-year-old son Cole when the two heard Carlisa Jones cry out that her daughter Jevaeh had been pulled underneath the water.

Patterson selflessly dove straight down off the dam without a moment's thought.

Unfortunately, "he dove too deep," his mother Vickie Jones said, and hit his head hard on the creek's rocky bottom breaking his neck in three places and severing his spine.

Amazingly, Patterson still managed to save the little girl's life.

"They don’t know how (he saved her)," Jones said. "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."

The 43-year-old was found minutes later floating down the creek, with his face in the water.

"He did drown," his mother told The Cedartown Standard. She said he is currently in a medically induced coma and has been on and off life support.

Patterson, who just two weeks ago pulled a man out of a burning gasoline tanker, is being called a "real hero" by his doctors.

But there is not much else they can do for him, and Jones says her son doesn't have the health insurance necessary to get better treatment.

A carpenter by trade, Patterson had just recently landed a contractor gig, but the job did not provide insurance.

"He’s been employed for many years, but when the market fell and everything, he got in the unemployment line because many companies had to cut back," his mother said. "He worked on his own here and there. He’s a wonderful, hard worker."

Jones, who is also taking care of a husband with Stage IV cancer, says she wants to have Patterson transferred to a private nonprofit spinal cord rehabilitation hospital, and hopes to be able to raise the necessary funds with the Internet's help.

"If anything can be done, they will do it," Jones said of the doctors at the Shepherd Center.

Patterson's family and friends have started a donation fund in his name, as well as a Facebook page with regular updates on his condition.

[photos via Facebook, screengrab via WSBTV]