Brave flood victims farewelled
YOUNG Blake Rice showed the strength and heart of a grown man as he carried the coffins of his brother and mother.
Flanked by his brothers Chris and Kyle and father, John Tyson, Blake’s courage emulated that shown by his other brother, 13-year-old Jordan Lucas Rice, minutes before he and their mother died in floodwaters 10 days ago.
More than 400 family, friends and well-wishers turned out for the funeral of Jordan and Donna Maree Rice, 43, at Drayton and Toowoomba Cemetery yesterday.
It was a scene that will sadly be repeated many times over the coming weeks as the region comes to grips with the full tragedy of the flood event.
Mourners heard how Donna was “the perfect mum” and Jordan, “a loving son”.
Mr Tyson, his son Chris Rice, 22, and family friend Debbie Anderson gave an honest and emotional insight into the lives they led.
Choking back tears, Mr Tyson thanked the Toowoomba community for its support and spoke of the indescribable love he had for his lost “soul mate” and son.
“Our family was once described as dysfunctional . . . I don’t know what the perfect family is, but I thought we were,” he said.
“The fire in my heart will continue to burn until it’s my time to join them.”
On January 10, the mother and son died when they and Blake, 10, were trapped on the roof of their car in a raging torrent that surged through the intersection of James and Kitchener streets.
Jordan, who was afraid of water, bravely told rescuers to save his brother first.
Then, when the effort shifted to save Donna and Jordan, they were swept off their car and left to cling to a tree.
But the force of the raging water was too much and Jordan lost his grip.
His mum selflessly let go — desperate to save her son — and they were lost to the flood.
Chris, who affectionately called Jordan “Weedsy”, said the family had taken strength from the courage shown by his little brother.
“You were petrified of water, heights, even the dark,” he said.
“How wrong was I?
“Here you go losing your life from one of your biggest fears to save your little brother.
“You made me so proud. What you did took heart, courage and love.
“You’re my little hero. I love you Weedsy, you’ll always be missed mate.”
They were buried together, Jordan on top of his mother, to a soundtrack of songs by Cat Stevens, Pink, James Blunt and Jimmy Barnes.
Frangipanis, Donna’s favourite flower, were placed on both coffins and hundreds of balloons were released at the conclusion of the service.
But the family remained behind long after the music had finished.
They waited to hug and shake the hands of everyone who extended their arms.
It was a stretching line and it showed not only how close the family was, but also how much they were loved.