When an Aldine High School football player saw a mother and child trapped inside a car from Tropical Storm Imelda’s flooding waters, he did not hesitate to spring into action.
In Aldine, 14 miles north of Houston, Jayden Payne jumped into a vehicle to help save a woman and her baby after she drove her BMW SUV into a ditch filled with 15 feet of water near the school’s campus.
Early afternoon on Thursday, September 19, the football running back was being picked up by his mother due to the worsening storm. She parked in a nearby Aldi parking lot to avoid flood waters.
Payne described how he first saw the small child trapped, and was compelled to help.
“She was four years old and I was like, 'She's too young for her life to get taken away right now.' So I was frightened for her. So I just put my life out there for hers," Payne said.
“I kicked my slides off and I took my id off, threw my wallet, and I just ran across in front of all the cars,” the highschool junior described to Good Morning America. “I didn't care that there were cars coming.”
Aldine High School's Jayden Payne dove in the Imelda floodwaters to save a woman and her child: "I had to make sure two of God's children didn't die at an early age," Payne said. (story by @ChronColeman) https://t.co/9fOOI6w5uI via @houstonchron— Matt Young (@Chron_MattYoung) September 20, 2019
The Houston Chronicle reports the trapped woman opened her car door when Payne and two others jumped in, fighting against the water’s strong current to pull both occupants to safety.
”I put her on the side of the grass and she put her baby on the grass," said Payne to CBS News. "She just told me, she was like, 'You're my guardian angel.'"
Despite the public attention and national praise, Payne says he still feels like a normal kid from Aldine High School.
"It's kind of weird because just yesterday I was a normal kid, now I'm a local hero," Payne said.
The names of the woman and child were not released, but were reportedly safe.
Southwest Texas was drenched in torrential rain pour and flooding on September 18 and 19 due to the tropical storm that devastated homes, overwhelmed storm drains and flooded residential streets.
The Weather Channel reports the storm, which poured more than 40 inches of rain in some areas, prompted evacuations due to the flash flooding.
The storm was so powerful it set the city’s record for its wettest day in the month of September with nine inches total measured at at Houston's Intercontinental Airport.
Photo: Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images