Jayden Payne didn’t think twice when he risked his life and saved a mother and her baby from drowning in floodwaters when tropical depression Imelda hit Houston. The 16-year-old Aldine High School football player didn’t assess the danger and just dove underwater to rescue two of God’s children.
“I hurried up, threw my jacket off, I threw my shirt off. 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,” Payne said.
Vinitta Williams and her 2-year-old daughter Ava were trying to get home from daycare and was driving by Aldine when their car was swept away into a flooded drainage ditch. Payne and his mom Cynthia saw their car and she was crying for the car to stop and for Williams to get out.
“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. I was like, oh my God,'” Jayden recalled seeing the trouble unfold before his eyes as the whole street start to get submerged with water.
LOVE THIS STORY! He's the 16-year-old hero the whole country is talking about. Jayden Payne saved a mom & her 2YO daughter after their SUV was swept away in Imelda's flood waters. Tonight, an exclusive interview as they reunite. Tune in @ 10 #KHOU11. pic.twitter.com/Z2TVqMAtMD
— Lauren Talarico (@KHOULauren) September 21, 2019
Williams only realized that they were sinking when floodwaters started coming inside their car. She lost it and even thought that she and her baby were going to die inside. Instinct kicked in, Williams grabbed Ava and started kicking and pulling at the door.
When it opened she tried to swim up while holding Ava above her head to keep her out of the water. But the current was so strong it kept pulling them under.
“I felt the current taking me under the bridge, and I felt like I was going to die,” Williams said.
Fortunately, by this time Jayden was already making his away across to save them and heard Williams calling out, “Graby my baby” repeatedly. But the young hero could not bear to lose them so he rescued them both, thanks also to the help of two other men who helped pull them all out of the water. Cynthia’s prayers to have them all back to safety were answered.
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
“That’s when he dived in and he pulled us out and I’m thinking, ‘thank you, God.’ He is my guardian angel. He’s my hero. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. If he would’ve jumped in that water and pulled us out, we would not be here,” Williams told KHOU11 when she reunited with Payne after the incident.
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
Meanwhile, Payne said that he felt he did something great because he made “sure two of God’s children didn’t die at an early age.”
Aldine High School (@AldineAthletics) RB/LB Jayden Payne on @deshaunwatson inviting him on Twitter to be the #Texans special guest Sunday during the game w/ Carolina.Jayden rescued a mother & her child during the flooding caused by Imelda: "I was shocked..Oh my God.I was excited" pic.twitter.com/TsWczaKbPK
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) September 23, 2019
Aldine coach Hank Semler commended Payne for his bravery, courage, and heroism. He is proud of what the boy did. He risked his life to save people he didn’t know. He knew they were in danger and risked his life to save them even though he didn’t know them. It turned out though that Williams lives in the same apartment complex as Payne and his mother.