Last Thursday afternoon was a scary one in Houston, as heavy rains from Tropical Depression Imelda led to catastrophic flooding around the region.
Authorities said at least five deaths could be blamed on the flooding, including three when vehicles got caught in floodwaters.
But many people were saved, including one mother and child who whose vehicle was swept into a flooded ditch.
Jayden Payne, hero
Jayden Payne, a junior at Aldine High School in the northern part of the city, was with his mother around midday last Thursday, after she decided to pick him up early from school with the storm worsening.
Payne’s mother had parked in the lot of the ALDI grocery store near campus to avoid driving into flood waters. But as the walked to her car, they saw a BMW SUV swept into a drainage ditch with over 10 feet of water.
Payne went into action.
“I hurried up, threw my jacket off, I threw my shirt off,” he said, via the Houston Chronicle. “I ran over there across in front of all the cars. I didn't care if all the cars stopped or not because I was more worried about their safety than my safety.”
He saw the driver of the car, Vinitta Williams, open her door and saw her head emerge from the water; she then pulled her daughter’s head out of the waters.
Payne grabbed Williams and the 2-year-old child, pushing them out of the ditch against a strong current; two other men came to help him.
As the mother and child sat spitting up water, Payne stayed with them to make sure they were safe.
“[The mother] was crying. She said, ‘you’re my guardian angel,” Payne said.
Mustang football player Jayden Payne jumped into the water to help save a woman and her toddler when the car they were in went into the ditch running beside Aldine HS. Great job Jayden...and the 2 other men who risked their lives to help another! @AldineHS_AISD @AldineISD pic.twitter.com/dyCWoCsx7l— @GungHoMustangs (@gunghomustangs) September 19, 2019
One of Aldine’s football coaches saw Payne’s heroic act and sent pictures to the head coach.
“I feel like I did something great,” Payne said. “I had to make sure two of God’s children didn’t die at an early age.”
‘You are a real-life hero!’
Payne has been getting a lot of attention for his quick thinking, and rightfully so.
On Monday, Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson reached out to Payne.
“Jayden - you are a real life hero! I’d like to invite you to be our special guest at our game this Sunday vs. the Panthers,” he wrote.
A Twitter account with the handle “JaydenPayne25” was among the replies to Watson: “Thank you soooo much.”
Payne is a tight end and linebacker with the Mustangs. Aldine is 1-2 after a win over Sam Houston on September 13, ending a nine-game losing streak that dated to last year.
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