Indiana freshman in coma after swimming accident; police suspect alcohol
Mar 18, 2014 at 8:13a ET
A friend who rescued Indiana wide receiver Isaac Griffith as he was drowning at a Florida beach said Tuesday he acted on instinct when the pair and two other friends got caught in a rip current.
"Me and Isaac got pulled farther out than everyone else, so we were having trouble," Mitch McCune said in a telephone interview. "He was drowning and I grabbed him and got him to shore. It was tough."
He said once he was able to stand, another friend, wide receiver Ty Smith, helped pull Griffith to shore. McCune wasn't sure how far from shore the rip current had taken them, but said they were out past the buoys.
McCune performed CPR on Siesta Beach until Sarasota County Sheriff's Department officers and emergency units arrived.
Police said Griffith was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where spokeswoman Kim Savage said he remained in a medically induced coma Tuesday evening. His condition was critical but stable, and doctors said he was showing "small, but incremental improvements," she said.
Griffith's parents, Shannon and Kim Griffith were by their son's side and released a statement through the hospital, Savage said.
"We deeply appreciate the prayers and outpouring of support coming to us through tweets, calls and messages, both from Florida and Indiana. We are seeing positive signs throughout the day and winning small battles that give us hope," the statement said.
McCune, an Indiana student who is studying to be an athletic trainer, said he had visited Griffith several times in the hospital and asked Hoosiers fans to pray for Griffith.
"Pray for his lungs and his little battles and that he will come out strong and OK," he said. "Just keep thinking positive thoughts."
The sheriff's department said Griffith was drinking in a hotel room with McCune, Smith and safety Nick Stoner when the four decided to go swimming. McCune denied they had been drinking.
"I don't know how that started," he said.
McCune described Griffith as non-responsive when he pulled him out. The sheriff's report said Griffith's CT scans were normal and spokeswoman Wendy Rose said Tuesday that his "signs are positive."
Stoner, 21, is a wide receiver from the Indianapolis suburb of Greenwood. Smith, a 19-year-old safety, is a redshirt freshman from Bloomington.
A statement released by Indiana asked fans to keep Griffith in their thoughts. Griffith played at Homestead High School near Fort Wayne. His father, Shannon Griffith, is football coach at Manchester University in northeastern Indiana.