Girl caught in Emerald Isle rip current is brain dead, family says
The family of Paige Merical shared that the 17-year-old who nearly drowned in a rip current last week is brain dead.Posted — Updated
Paige Merical's father wrote on social media Thursday, "I wish I had good news for everyone."
John Merical went on to say, "We get to love on my baby for the next few days, with organ donation Saturday."
Paige went to Emerald Isle last Friday to spend the day with her friend and Wake Forest High School classmate, Ian Lewis, whose family had rented a house there.
In an ICU bed, she spent many hours breathing on her own with the respirator turned off, family members said. But doctors said she suffered too much brain damage from the ordeal.
"While this is not the outcome that any of us prayed for, we hope that the decision Paige made to be an organ donor will not only allow her to save multiple lives but bring awareness to pediatric organ donation nationwide," the Merical family said in a statement. "What an honor it is for us, her family, to know she will be living on in others, giving them the gift of life. We would encourage others to register to become an organ donor to support the gift of life, just as Paige did."
"It is also important to us to remind people about the importance of water safety and the dangers of rip currents," the family said. "The beach is a joyous place for so many, but it can quickly become dangerous. We encourage families to educate themselves on the dangers of rip currents."
The Merical family thanked everyone who prayed for Paige in the past week, as well as the first responders and all of the doctors and nurses who cared for her.
"We have been inundated with your love and prayers that have given us hope and sustained us during our time of grief," they said.
Wake Forest High students organized a candlelight vigil for their two classmates on Tuesday.
"Your tireless search for Ian Lewis to bring him home to his family means more than you could know," the Merical family added to first responders.
Funeral arrangements are still pending, but a private flag-raising ceremony and tower lighting to honor Paige's life and her organ donation will be held Friday evening at Vidant Medical Center.
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