Teen who survived waterfall accident: 'God was with me' - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Teen who survived waterfall accident: 'God was with me'

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KINGS MOUNTAIN, NC (WBTV) -

Patrick Merino Owens can move around with the help of a walker and wheelchair these days. Many never thought he'd get this far.

Two weeks ago he was swept over High Shoals Waterfall in the South Mountains State Park, landing on rocks almost 90 feet below, and survived.

"God was with us every step of the way and still is," he said from his home in Kings Mountain on Thursday.

The 17-year-old had gone hiking with his dad to the falls, then climbed the rest of the way to the shimmering pools above it. The signs say swimming is not allowed, but Patrick crossed the barrier and went anyway.

"Yeah, everybody does it."  Patrick doesn't remember much after that, only that he got caught in the current and went over the falls.

"I woke up four days later in the hospital," he said. 

At the time, rescuers were amazed he was still alive. Several people have fallen to their deaths in the same spot over the past 25 years.

Dozens of rescuers responded up to help get him out of the rocky area he was in and on the way to a hospital. It took more than two hours to safely get him across a ravine and carried to a waiting helicopter.

"Longest two hours of my life," said his mother Robin Merino, who was waiting at a hospital in Charlotte. She feared the worst, but now is confident her son will recover completely.

"He is a miracle," she said.

Patrick broke bones from his head to his feet and has pins and rods holding the broken pieces together while they heal. Doctors told him he should be able to walk on his own in just a matter of weeks, though full recovery will take some time.

He had planned to play football in his senior year at Kings Mountain High School but that won't happen. He also was hoping to join the Army after he graduated, but that is a question mark now.

No matter what, though, he says he will move forward.

"I'm just grateful to be here." Patrick says one day he will return to the waterfall where he fell "But getting in the water? No!"

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