Teen survives six-story fall from balcony

MYRTLE BEACH -- He was just trying to do a good deed: pluck a stranger's fallen swimsuit from the edge of the balcony above.

Matthew Savage reached, jumped, felt his fingertips touch the shorts -- and then felt himself tumble over the railing of the sixth floor balcony of his Myrtle Beach hotel room.

"I just closed my eyes," the 17-year-old said, recalling the Friday night fall. He was recovering Saturday in his Tropical Winds hotel room on Ocean Boulevard, nursing scrapes and bruises on his back and legs.

Savage, of Gainesville, Ga., bounched off the balconies on the way down, slammed onto a slanted rooftop covering the hotel's lazy river and slid off into the bushes.

Savage stood up and walked toward his room, but paramedics insisted on hospitalizing him.

strapping him to a board and flying him to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for an examination. A full body scan and other tests came back clear, he said.

"This was a 'God is real' event," said Savage's sister, Mandy Baker.

He left the hospital at 4 a.m. to resume his vacation.

On Saturday, he reunited with the woman who made the fateful request.

Tracy Weeks, of Raleigh, N.C., said her son's swimming trunks had fluttered off their 11th floor balcony and had gotten caught on a 7th floor balcony -- seemingly in reach from the 6th floor, so she asked Savage to try to grab them.

She was racked with guilt all night and did not feel right until she saw him on Saturday, she said.

"This has been the worst nightmare of my life," she said. "I couldn't sleep."

Weeks, a grandmother of six, knows it could have been a lot worse.

"Somebody was looking out for this child," she said. "I could have bought a new bathing suit if I had known."

Contact LISA FLEISHER at 626-0317 or lfleisherthesunnews.com.