Isaac Griffith is a lucky young man

It was just 19 days ago that Isaac Griffith nearly drowned while on Spring Break with friends in Florida. Two of his teammates and another friend rescued him from rip tide conditions, and after a short time in a medically induced coma, he began his road to recovery. Saturday, Griffith, his hero friends, and Griffith's parents talked to the IU media about the ordeal.

Isaac Griffith expects to be back to 100 percent by mid-summer and back on the field for Indiana football come fall camp.

To think that it has been less than three weeks ago that he nearly drowned in a swimming accident during Spring Break in Sarasota, Fla. just makes that reality all that much more remarkable.

And yet Saturday afternoon, flanked by his parents and two of his teammates who were on the scene in Sarasota and were directly responsible for saving his life, Griffith spoke to the IU media for the first time since the accident in a press conference held in the team room in the north end of Memorial Stadium.

It was a time of joy because the story had a happy ending, but also an emotional time for both Isaac and his parents as the story was retold.

On March 17, Griffith, teammates Nick Stoner and Ty Smith, and a third friend, Mitch McCune, were swimming off of Siesta Key Beach. When they got in the water the conditions were calm. But after a short time, the waves began picking up and getting higher and higher. In the case of Griffith, a riptide pushed him farther and farther from the shore. But Stoner and Smith had become separated from their friends, and had decided the waves were getting to rough and they needed to get back to shore. But when they got there, they couldn't locate Griffith or McCune. The waves had gotten bigger and bigger and you couldn't see heads out in the water.

Stoner jumped up on to a lifeguard station, spotted their friends, and motioned to Smith with his hands where he needed to run out in to the water to get to them. Stoner then ran out, too, and they got to where McCune had been able to pull Griffith back in and was holding his body about waist level in the water. Stoner and Smith then picked Griffith up and got him back to the shore. Smith told Stoner to run and get an ambulance while he performed mouth to mouth on Griffith. At the same time, McCune did a chest press. They did that until the ambulance arrived.

AllHoosiers.com's Nolan Blair provided the following video of some of Saturday's remarks.

Griffith said Saturday that he first realized he was in trouble when the riptide had got a hold of him.

"I kind of realized I was in trouble when I was kind of being thrust out farther than I wanted to in the water,'' said Griffith, a redshirt freshman wide receiver from Fort Wayne, Ind. "I kind of panicked. In my mind, I kind of realized it was time to go back in (to the shore) but before I could get back in, I kind of got swept out further.''

Griffith said it wasn't so much that he was in deep water but simply that the riptides made it impossible to get back into the shore. He said he had swam in the ocean several times before and considered himself to be a good swimmer.

"The water we were in wasn't all that high at all,'' Griffith said. "We were out waist deep maybe. And what happened was when we went in it was calm and as we were there it started to pick up and the waves started to go by. I don't know if it was due to the weather or what but when we went in it was calm. And then the waves started getting higher and higher and I was getting pushed out. Everything is kind of a blur because I was panicking and trying to get back in but I couldn't.

After that his memory isn't as good. The next thing he remembers is a moment in the hospital as he came out of his medically induced coma two days later.

"My first memory was the man standing at my bed, shaking me and telling me it was time to wake up,'' Griffith said. "He was the one who got me out of my coma. He was also one of the guys who was with me 24/7, making sure I was doing OK. I remember waking and wondering where I was. After that it all got pretty vague because everything was getting thrown at me all at once.''

Stoner and Griffith had just come down to Sarasota that day to hang out with Smith in his family's condo which was right across the street from the beach where they were swimming.

Smith had taken an aquatics management class at IU and part of what he learned there was CPR. Another thing he learned though, and this he claims was the most important aspect of their rescue, was to remain calm through the entire process.

Smith remembers getting Griffith back to shore and then telling Stoner what he needed to do.

"I just told Nick to run and go get an ambulance,'' Smith said. "And Nick, being a track star, it worked out pretty well. Mitch and I laid Isaac down and I did mouth-to-mouth while Mitch did the chest press."

Stoner was a track standout, first at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Ind., and currently at IU. He said his best event is the 400 meters. Later they went back and calculated how far he had ran from the beach and estimated it at 500 meters.

"I kind of felt like Forrest Gump,'' Stoner said. "Like Ty said earlier he looked at me and said, ‘Dude, run.' And that's all I know how to do really so I just took off. I wasn't really thinking about much. Their condo is right across the street so I ran to the condo and (Ty's) girlfriend was in the condo with some other people and I told her to call 911.''

Shannon Griffith, Isaac's father who is the head football coach at Manchester College in northern Indiana, said he considers Stoner, Smith and McCune heroes. He said they will always hold a special place in his family because of their heroics and their obvious love for their teammate.

"The courage, the reaction, what these guys did right, that's what blows me away as a parent,'' Shannon Griffith said. "Just how the reacted. They are fine young men, and Mitch is a fine young man and they will forever be a part of our family in more ways than one. I'm looking forward to seeing these guys out playing the game and enjoying their lives.''

The elder Griffith tweeted during the ordeal that doctors said if the friends hadn't taken the immediate action that they did that at the very least Isaac would have had brain damage. The doctors also told Shannon Griffith just how dangerous the rip tides can be.

"The doctor said that riptides take down the strongest of people every day,'' Shannon Griffith said. "They just said be thankful your boy is going to walk out of here.''

Isaac Griffith also talked about what his friends mean to him.

"These guys are my brothers,'' Isaac Griffith said. " I love ‘em to death. I've always said there are three warriors that you can take into battle with you. I'll take those three any time. No matter what the situation I'll take those three kids any time.''

Griffith said he hopes to be back playing football at IU in time for fall camp.

"I'm ready to get back whenever I can,'' he said. I'm not going to push it. I'm letting the doctors and trainers and our strength staff and our coaching staff make that determination as to when I can get back and when I'm ready to go full speed. But basically what I've been told is that if I'm good enough, and they'll monitor me throughout the summer, basically I'll be back to full health by fall camp.''

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch


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