When floodwaters surged over the Beaumont, Texas, highway where Collette Sulcer, 41, was driving on Tuesday, she pulled off into a nearby parking lot, but got stuck.
With water rushing around the car, she got out and picked up her three-year-old daughter, Jordyn, to carry her to safety.
But the raging floodwaters swept Sulcer off her feet. She did all she could to keep her daughter’s head above water as they floated away from their car, police say.
She “absolutely saved the child’s life,” Officer Carol Riley, a spokesperson for the Beaumont Police Department, told the Daily Mail.
Jordyn, the daughter, told relatives that her mom was saying her prayers before she drowned, according to NOLA.com
A team of rescuers in a boat—two police officers and two fire rescue divers—found mom and daughter floating toward a trestle at approximately 3:30 p.m. Jordyn was clinging on to her mother’s back and shivering, according to a statement from the police department.
“They were in the water for quite some time. The mother did the best she could to keep her child up over the water,” Riley said. “The baby also had a backpack that was helping her float on her back and she was holding on to her mom.”
The pair were about to float under a trestle, which was already flooded, after which there would have been no hope for saving them, but first responders got there just in time.
The rescuers pulled mother and daughter into the boat and started to perform CPR on Sulcer, who was unresponsive.
A citizen allowed the first responders to use his truck to get them both to an ambulance. Sulcer was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
Jordyn was suffering from hypothermia and was taken to Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital, according to the Weather Channel.
Jordyn is now doing well and has been reunited with her family, officials told People.
“She is absolutely precious, everyone in the hospital fell in love with her,” Riley, the police spokeperson, told People.
Riley was tasked with delivering the death notification to the family, who were “absolutely devastated” but were “staying strong.”
Jordyn “survived, miraculously,” Riley said. “But it’s heart-wrenching to think of her growing up without her mother.”
Sulcer was not married, but her daughter’s father lives in Houston, according to People.