Isaac Griffith nearly drowned but is making progress in his recovery
Sarasota, Florida – We're hearing from a very thankful father for the first time since his son, Indiana University football player Isaac Griffith, was pulled out to sea by a rip current.
The 19-year-old nearly drowned. The lifeguards on duty that day were off duty, and not around when it happened at Siesta Key around 6 p.m. Monday.
Shannon Griffith describes his reaction when he and his wife Kim received the devastating news by phone, all the way in Indiana where they live.
"It dropped me to my knees," Griffith said.
Griffith is the head football coach at Manchester University. He says he boarded a plane with his wife and they headed straight to Sarasota Memorial Hospital when they found out what happened.
Now, four days later, they're seeing their son recover. The first positive sign was when Isaac squeezed his mother's hand.
"He was sitting up. He's a little tired. He's breathing on his own," Griffith said of the recovery. He added that his son got out of bed, and for the first time, started walking and even asked if he could have his phone.
The grateful father says from the moment that rip current yanked his son out to sea, everyone has stepped up to help. From the doctors, nurses and staff at the hospital, to complete strangers, everyone has embraced their family and made them feel at home.
"It's blown me away," said Griffith.
Mitchell McCune is one of three buddies who was in town with Isaac for Spring Break. He described what he did to get his friend out of the water.
"I just grabbed a hold of him with my left arm. Then once the tide started taking him under, I put him on my knee and I popped him up in time."
McCune then dragged Isaac out of the water and started CPR- something Doctor Kenneth Hurwitz says was critical in Isaac's survival, along with Isaac's physical condition as a football player.
"I don't even like to think about it because not too many people walk away from that," his father said.
While Dr. Hurwitz says Isaac still has a long recovery ahead of him, Isaac's parents are very optimistic. His father told 10 News he can't wait to give everyone a thumbs up signal that his son is okay.
"When he walks out of that door so we can go home, that's when we'll have that moment. When I can put my arms around him and hug him, that will be a special moment."
Until that day, Griffith continues to update family and friends through his Twitter account.
"It's pretty amazing to know that people care for him. This is a life changing event," he said.