Australia Flooding: Mother Jane Sheahan Dies Saving Son From Floodwaters
A mother of two from the inland Queensland town of Roma, Australia, died early Friday after sacrificing her life to save her son from the rushing floodwaters that devastated many areas of Queensland over the weekend and forced thousands of people from their homes, the Sunday Mail reports.
Jane Sheahan was driving with her 7-year-old son Darcy through the flooded streets of Roma Friday when fast-rising flood waters swept their vehicle off the road, according to the Sunday Mail.
Blair Humphries, a local father of four who ran out to help Sheahan, told the Sunday Mail that one man already at the scene tried to reach the pair with a ski rope and another staked out a telephone pole downstream in order to intercept the two if they were swept that way. Humphries and a third man then entered the water to try to help the mother and son back to safety.
In the meantime, Humphries said he was appalled to see a group of bystanders gathered at the scene with no intent to help, some of whom were videotaping the event on their camera phones.
By the time Humphries and his co-rescuer reached the pair, floodwaters had begun pulling them apart, and Sheahan realized only one could be saved.
"Save my son!" were the last words Sheahan said before she handed her son up to the men and was swept under the floodwaters, according to the Sunday Mail.
Sheahan's body was found later that afternoon under a bridge. The incident is the first recorded fatality resulting from the floods currently plaguing Queensland, according to the Australian Associated Press.
Investigators are still trying to figure out why Sheahan was driving on a flooded road, but her brother said it could not have been a reckless decision, refuting the accusation of one witness interviewed by the the Sunday Mail that his sister had ignored warnings from onlookers to get off the road.
"It's totally untrue ... It gives the members of the public the impression that she was irresponsible," Sheahan's brother John Simon told the Brisbane Times. "My sister would never have done anything like that, she would never ever risk her children in any way."
One local official said he believes Sheahan could have been driving sandbags to areas with rising floodwaters.
"The lady was helping others out. That's what people do out here," Federal MP for Maranoa Bruce Scott told the Sunday Mail. "She was actually in the process of carrying additional sandbags into the area where the floods were rising."
See below for more photos of the flooding: