A heroic Georgia man was paralyzed after he dove into a creek to save a drowning 4-year-old girl.

On June 8, Michael Patterson was walking along a Euharlee Creek in Rome, Ga., when he noticed that 4-year-old Javea Jones was struggling to stay above the water line, local television station WSB-TV reports. Patterson immediately dove into the shallow water to save Jones, but was paralyzed in the attempt.

"I was terrified, that's it. I mean it's my daughter," Carlissa Jones, Javea’s mother, told WSB. "She's underwater. All you can see is the top of her head. She was not making any noise. All I could see was her head.”

That’s when Patterson, who has a 9-year-old boy of his own, heard Javea’s cries and decided to rescue her. "He jumped in head first and after I grabbed her, I looked back and he was floating on top of the water," Carlissa Jones told WSB-TV.

Paramedics were able to resuscitate Jones, but were unable to prevent her rescuer’s grave injury. Despite the strong current, the creek’s bed was shallow and rocky. Patterson is believed to have broken his neck the moment he hit the water, WSB-TV reports.

Patterson was rushed to a local hospital, where he remains in intensive care. His mother, Vicki Jones, says that her son is struggling to comprehend the magnitude of his injuries, WSB-TV. She added that the paralyzed hero, who works in construction, lacks the insurance necessary to cover his thousands of dollars in rehabilitation and health care bills.

"I just want to wake up from this nightmare." Vicki Jones told WSB-TV. “Pray and pray, and have a lot of faith. That’s all I can do.” She hopes to set up a fund to help cover Patterson’s medical bills. Supporters have also created a Facebook page to update the public on his condition.

Javea Jones told WSB-TV that she’s still upset about what happened to her, but otherwise unhurt. Meanwhile, Carlissa Jones was “heartsick” to hear that Patterson was paralyzed, but remained thankful for his courage.

Amazingly, Patterson’s attempted rescue was his second heroic act in as many weeks. The Rockmart native reportedly pulled the driver of a tanker truck to safety after his vehicle caught fire, WSB-TV reports.