Just before being swept away by raging floodwaters, a boy uttered four heartbreaking words. Because of those words, he has been hailed a hero by his government, the media, and the public.
While driving with her two sons, Donna Rice found herself unable to maneuver around the rising flood currents that struck Queensland, Australia. At the intersection of Kitchener and James Street, her car was stuck, leaving Donna, Blake, and Jordan Rice stranded and at the mercy of the torrents, the Brisbane Times reports.
The family was soon forced to climb onto the roof of the car, desperately clinging to life as the flood continued to swell. The trio had managed to hold on until a passerby equipped with a rope came to their rescue. Unfortunately, time was against them, and they knew one man couldn’t save them all.
As the rescuer attempted to grab 13-year-old Jordan Rice, the boy mustered up four words that struck the man to his core. Refusing to be rescued while his family was still in danger, the child told the man, “Take my brother first.” Despite his own inability to swim, Jordan was adamant that if only one of them could make it out alive, it would be his little brother.
With time running out, the man heeded Jordan’s command, snatching 10-year-old Blake Rice from the roof of the car and pulling him to safety. When the rescuer looked back, both Donna and Jordan had been swept away by the current. Tragically, neither would survive, and their bodies would later be recovered several miles downstream. The flood would go on to claim a total of 35 lives that day.
Multitudes of people came to honor Jordan Rice at his funeral along with his mother. Piles of roses were laid atop their caskets as family and friends heard the retelling of Jordan’s last moments and his final words before he and his mother were laid to rest.
On behalf of his son, John Tyson accepted a bravery award from Governor Paul De Jersey. Rebuking multiple politicians who vowed to honor Jordan in the public sphere but never fulfilled their promise, Tyson also thanked the more than 300,000 petitioners who demanded that his son receive recognition for his sacrifice.
“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,” Tyson told the Chronicle. “He is our little hero.”
Tyson expressed his admiration for his son, pointing to his bravery when faced with his biggest fear as the epitome of courage.
“Tough isn’t always loud and brash and brazen. Tough is sometimes four words quietly but firmly spoken by a boy who couldn’t swim as water threatened to submerge him. Everyone can be tough when the need arises,” Tyson wrote of his son.
In honor of his son, Tyson has since established the Jordan Rice Foundation, which helps to counsel and guide individuals who are coping with grief from losing a loved one.
“I don’t want anyone to go through what we’ve been through,” he said. “Even when I’m out driving and see a makeshift cross on the side of the road, all the memories and empathy come flooding back. We want to do our best to help anyone who needs it.”
Jordan Rice’s memory lives on through his story. He left the world with four simple words that not only embody his bravery but also his unconditional love for his family above himself.
It’s hard to believe that such a young boy could summon the courage to give himself up for another. Undeniably, his sacrifice was purely out of selflessness. It is the very definition of brotherly love. Jordan’s story serves as an inspiration to those who are struggling with grief and loss.