Jordan Rice, 13, The Tragic Hero Of Australia Floods

By: CBS
By: CBS
Jordan Rice, 13, died after insisting that his younger brother Blake be saved first.

Jordan Rice, 13, at left, died after insisting his brother Blake, at right, be rescued first from their flooded car in Australia.

It's common for one personality to emerge as the face of tragedy, and Australia's deadly floodwaters have now claimed just such a hero to embody all that is good in the human character.

At least 25 people have died since relentless rains started pounding the eastern state of Queensland in November, but the death of 13-year-old Jordan Rice has captivated the nation.

On Monday, rapidly rising water engulfed a car carrying Rice, his mother and his brother in the hard-hit town of Toowoomba. The torrent knocked over the first person who attempted to reach the stranded family.

A second man managed to reach the car, but when he tried to pull Jordan out, the teenager insisted his 10-year-old brother Blake be saved first. Jordan couldn't swim.

Before the rescuer, Warren McErlean, could return to the car, a rope he was clinging to snapped. The car flipped over and Jordan and his mother Donna were carried away by the floodwater. They both died.

"Jordan was swept off," John Tyson, Donna Rice's long-time partner and Jordan's dad, told The Telegraph.

"As soon as he went, Donna just let go, you know, trying to clutch at Jordan. The poor little boy, they just both drowned."

"He (the rescuer) went to grab Jordan first, who said, 'Save my brother'. I can only imagine the fear coursing through his body."

"Courage kicked in, and he would rather his little brother would live," Jordan's older brother Kyle, 16, told The Australian newspaper.

The incident left McErlean distraught. He told Australian television in an emotional interview that he was deeply saddened by his inability to save all the boys.

"I just kept telling the boy (Jordan) that it was going to be alright, but it wasn't. I just feel terrible for himself and his family. I just couldn't get him out."

On Twitter, a wave of tweets have dubbed Jordan the "true hero" of the Queensland floods.

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  • by dramirk Location: hfa on Jan 15, 2011 at 03:14 PM
    by DRAMIRK January 14, 2011 5:48 PM EST AS A RIVER, JORDAN As a river Jordan, You swept us away We wept for you Jordan And wished you would stay But you have made your mark At the end of the day Glory is yours, Jordan And for your soul we pray A hero as Jan de Ark A boy just over ten Your body our ark A savior of men You gave up the hand And handed your soul For your brother But, you saved us all You saved us, Jordan From our despair That goodness lingers in this world That people still care Now we know better, despite what we've been told About a world as a river raging and cold In a world where greed rules Where taking not giving, is the way of the fools You opted for "give" So your brother might live Like the river, Jordan Angels will baptize A little boy, as a knight of valor With a pure heart, as his eyes And we have been baptized with your kindness In your deep green eyes Your name, Jordan, is now
  • by Raisa on Jan 14, 2011 at 06:28 PM
    Jordan you are a true hero and my sympathies to your family. You are a true angel. Rest in Peace
  • by Steph Location: Monument on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:18 AM
    This story just proves that angels do walk among us. They do not have visible wings, but they are there usually in forms of children. Rest in peace Jordan and God bless you for sacrificing yourself so that your brother could live. You really are a true hero and messenger of God.
  • by danielle Location: pilot mountain nc on Jan 14, 2011 at 09:15 AM
    this made me cry my eyes out. This is a true HERO.
  • by Somuadina Location: Nigeria on Jan 14, 2011 at 08:01 AM
    On Jordan's face, I saw the willingness to sacrifice and the willingness to dispense love in all manner. Jordan, I know you have already found comfort in eternity, may your innocent precious soul rest in the bossom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Adieu one in a million little man........(tears running down my cheek).
  • by rach Location: vic on Jan 14, 2011 at 04:19 AM
    how can we best give some supprt to these 21 little boys (angels) who have lost their mother and brother.....we as a family of 1 boy, open our hearts...and would like to also send our donations direct to the Rice family please...contact rsau@unimelb.edu.au NO boy should be without his mother - my heart breaks for you
  • by Jacinta Location: Bunbury, Western Australia on Jan 13, 2011 at 08:52 PM
    Rest in Peace little angel. May you be at peace with your mother. My heart goes out to Jordans family and everyone affected by this horrible disaster.....
  • by michelle Location: ft. wayne indiana on Jan 13, 2011 at 06:02 PM
    I am deeply saddened that this Angel left our world. This is the most heroic and the most touching story i have ever seen. This being the only news story that has ever brought tears from my eyes, and from my heart as well. My sincere condolances to the family of this Angel, this Hero, this Young Man, who was more of a man than most. Our hearts, and our prayers are with you all. May God Bless.....
  • by So saddened Location: cs on Jan 13, 2011 at 01:22 PM
    This story made me cry.
  • by Q Location: Peyton on Jan 13, 2011 at 12:45 PM
    How very tragic. Thoughts are with this young man and his family.
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