High school football player Jayden Payne saved lives earlier this week when he rescued a mom and her toddler from the raging waters of Tropical Depression Imelda, as reported by Faithwire.
Through a growing storm that caused dangerous and impassable roadways, Vinitta Williams was attempting to get her 2-year-old daughter Ava safely home from daycare. But as the rain pounded harder, her car was sent off the road and into a flooded drainage ditch near Aldine High School – Jayden’s school.
Jayden and his mother, Cynthia Payne, saw the mother struggle to get out of her sinking car.
“The whole street was just submerged with water,” Jayden recalled in an interview.
“I hear my mom screaming, ‘No, no! Someone stop her! Get out of the car! Get out of the car!’ I just started seeing it sink,” he explained.
Williams told KHOU that as the car began to sink, she struggled to open its door.
“That’s when I really lost it,” Williams told the news outlet. “I was like, ‘Oh my God! Are we going to die in here?’ I grabbed my baby, and I started kicking and pulling and kicking and pulling and somehow, it opened.”
But Williams and Ava were not out of danger yet. The rushing water was pulling both under. Williams held her daughter above her head, but she still couldn’t make progress towards safe ground. When Jayden saw the struggle, he instantly bound into action.
“I threw my jacket off and I threw my shirt off … and I dove in,” he said. Williams handed her daughter to the rescuing football player who pulled both of them out of the current safely with the help of two other men.
“He is my guardian angel. He’s my hero,” Williams later recalled.
“I feel like I did something great,” Jayden said. “I had to make sure two of God’s children didn’t die at an early age.”
The good deed has earned him publicity and recognition for his character. His football coach, Hank Semler, said Jayden’s leadership has been seen both on and off the field.
“To risk your own life to save people that you don’t know—he didn’t know that lady and her child,” he told the Chronicle. “He just saw fellow people that needed help and he just immediately sprung to action.”
Word spread quickly about Jayden’s heroic act and even prompted a special invitation from the Houston Texan’s quarterback, Deshaun Watson.
“Jayden—you are a real-life hero!” he wrote in a tweet. “I’d like to invite you to be our special guest at our game this Sunday vs. the Panthers.”
Jayden was surprised when he found out about the offer in the training room, Fox26 reports.
“Who me?” he said. “I was shocked … I was so excited, I’m still so excited.”
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Thomas B. Shea/Stringer
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine. She blogs at mikaelamathews.com.