Raleigh teen rescued from rip currents is brain dead, organ donation set for Saturday

Published: Apr. 25, 2019 at 5:53 PM EDT
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The 17-year-old Raleigh girl who was rescued from the Emerald Isle surf last week is brain dead and will donate her organs on Saturday, her father announced on social media.

Paige Merical and Ian Lewis, 18, of Wake Forest, were caught in rip currents on April 19 while swimming at Emerald Isle on spring break, according to officials.

Carteret County Emergency Communications received a report of two swimmers in distress around 3:50 p.m., according to a news release from Emerald Isle police.

Merical was rescued from the water and taken to Carteret General Hospital before being transferred to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

Merical’s mother said her daughter was underwater for about 14 minutes before she was rescued. Her brain was severely damaged and she has still not regained consciousness.

Lewis never made it out of the water alive. His body was pulled from the water on Monday after crews searched all weekend for him.

[ Community prays for NC teens caught in rip current ]

Merical’s father, John, posted on Facebook Wednesday night that “Paige fought a tough fight, but her brain was too severely damaged. We get to love on my baby for the next few days, with organ donation Saturday.”

John Merical went on to say that his daughter was a big proponent of organ donation and he encouraged others to become a donor if they’re not already.

“By next week Paige will live on thru others,” he wrote.