Teen gives life to save brother
TOOWOOMBA boy Jordan Rice, 13, has been remembered as a hero after he let his younger brother be rescued first, seconds before he and his mother Donna were swept to their deaths in the CBD.
The death toll from the devastating floods which swept through Toowoomba and the region on Monday afternoon has risen to 10, with grave fears held for another 18.
Murphys Creek couple Steve and Sandra Matthews were killed when they were washed from their home.
Donna Rice's partner of 28 years, John Tyson, yesterday told The Chronicle how his beloved partner and their son perished.
Ms Rice, and sons Jordan, 13, and Blake, 10, were driving at the intersection of James and Kitchener streets about 2pm on Monday when they drove through water which at the time was only up to their car wheels.
However, their car engine stopped and Ms Rice called triple zero for help. She was unable to call anyone else as she had no phone credit.
The triple zero operator told the family to stay put and they were forced to climb on to the roof of their car after the floodwater rose rapidly.
Mr Tyson said no help came and bystanders watching the family did not offer help.
“All these people were just standing around until an old scrawny guy grabbed a bit of rope, wrapped it around himself and jumped in,” Mr Tyson said.
“Jordan can't swim and is terrified of water.
“But when the man went to rescue him, he said ‘save my brother first'.”
Mr Tyson said the man rescued Blake and tried to tie the rope around Jordan and Ms Rice but it broke.
They were swept downstream. The pair was able to briefly cling on to a tree, but was overcome by the force of raging floodwaters.
Mr Tyson wept as he told of his son's bravery when he knew how terrifying their last moments were.
“I can only imagine what was going on inside to give up his life to save his brother, even though he was petrified of water,” he said.
“He is our little hero.”
Mr Tyson and Ms Rice, 43, have four sons together — Chris, 22, Kyle, 16, Jordan, 13, and Blake, 10.
He wished to thank the good Samaritan who came to his family's help and rescued their son Blake.
The family had just picked up Jordan's high school uniforms that morning as he was due to start Year 8.
“They were the unsung heroes of my life. She was my soulmate.”
Ms Rice is the daughter of Marge and Arthur Rice.
Her sister Tracey Decaux said she loved chatting with her sister over a cigarette and cup of coffee.
Their children were great friends.