An Indiana University football player was awakened from a medically induced coma, days after he was rescued from strong rip currents off Siesta Beach by a friend.
Isaac Griffith was on spring break with two teammates and another IU student Monday afternoon when he nearly drowned, officials said.
Griffith, a redshirt freshman receiver from Fort Wayne, Ind., was brought out of heavy sedation and taken off a ventilator over the past 24 hours, the hospital said. The 19-year-old was awake Thursday morning, breathing on his own and responding well to family and caregivers, the hospital said.
Doctors upgraded his condition to serious and stable and expect a full recovery.
“The biggest issue right now is monitoring and treating him for pneumonia and damage to his lungs,” the hospital said.
Meantime, the IU student who rescued Griffith from the riptide, Mitch McCune, refuted a Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office report that said the four spring breakers were drinking alcohol before the incident.
“I don’t know how that started,” he told ESPN.
The sheriff’s report said the men went into the water about 6:30 p.m. Monday, and a strong current pulled the four away from the shore. Griffith was taken about 15 yards past the swim buoy, where he started to go into distress, deputies said.
“Me and Isaac got pulled farther out than everyone else, so we were having trouble,” said McCune, who is studying to be an athletic trainer. “He was drowning and I grabbed him and got him to shore. It was tough.”
McCune performed CPR until emergency personnel arrived.
Griffith’s parents, Shannon and Kim Griffith, flew from Indiana after the incident and have been at their son’s bedside. After their son’s condition was upgraded, they thanked friends and well-wishers for support, as well as doctors and the hospital staff.
“This is everything we hoped and prayed for,” Shannon Griffith said. “... We are extremely grateful for the caregivers here at Sarasota Memorial. Not only Isaac’s doctor, but also the nurses, respiratory therapists and other staff. They took our family under their wings, knowing a big part of our support system was up North, and helped us through this whole experience.”