Six-foot tall and strapping, Jordan Rice was nevertheless a shy, unassuming 13 year old who enjoyed his own company and did not play sports. And yet, his father John Tyson always recognised in him a quiet strength.
When devastating floodwaters tore through the town of Toowoomba in south-eastern Queensland in January 2011, Jordan, his mother Donna and his younger brother Blake were stranded on the roof of their car as the wall of water rose impossibly fast.
Jordan could not swim and was scared of water, and yet, as passers by Warren McErlean and Chris Skehan struggled valiantly to reach the car through the torrents, the young hero insisted they take his brother first.
Moments later, Jordan and Donna were washed to their deaths as the car upturned.
When Blake, Chris and Warren relayed Jordan’s final act of bravery to his grieving father, Mr Tyson recognised his son’s true courage.
“It’s what I expected out of him,” he said. “It’s just the way he was.”
Despite positive words from Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and then-Premier Anna Bligh, the Australian Bravery Awards Council later told Mr Tyson, struggling with his grief, that Jordan had been rejected for a bravery award.
John Tyson felt horribly let down on behalf of his son, so he decided to do something about it.
He started a Change.org petition titled, “My son died saving his little brother – it would mean the world to us to have his bravery acknowledged”.
“I’ve had prime ministers and premiers promise all this stuff,” Mr Tyson told The New Daily this week.
“If I say to you I’ll be round to mow your lawn tomorrow, you know what, I’ll be there. I’ll never offer and not deliver. I’m foolishly proud like that.”
Attracting almost 306,201 signatures, Mr Tyson’s petition became Change.org Australia’s biggest ever victory and was this week revealed as its most-signed petition of 2016.
In May this year, Mr Tyson finally accepted a posthumous bravery award for Jordan from the Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey.
“The way I look at it, it really is an award from the people,” Mr Tyson said.
“I carried a little bit of those 306,000 people in my heart and my footsteps when I accepted this medal.”
Now in the top drawer of his desk, Mr Tyson looks on it from time to time and recalls his son’s “beautiful little smile”.
“This award is a chance to recognise Jordan for who he was. He really had a beautiful demeanour.”
Mr Tyson continues to call for greater transparency over the events of that fateful day and the emergency response, as well as for better preparation for future floods.
He also set up the Jordan Rice Foundation, which aims to build a retreat for families affected by disaster to recuperate, so that his son’s brave death will not be in vain.
“Losing Jordan and Donna changed my world,” Mr Tyson said.
“I’ve had to get used to who I am now. The battle’s got to go forward on behalf of them because the system’s still broken.”
John has fought for 2 years to have his 13 year old son’s last act honoured. Today, in the biggest ever victory on Change.org Australia, he won.
Posted by Change.org on 2016年5月5日