Pat McClain navigated her Nissan Quest down Bradenton’s Third Street West.
McClain’s car, though, didn’t make it far.
Last week’s torrential rain, which flooded several streets in Manatee County as a result of Hurricane Hermine, kept McClain’s vehicle from moving.
She was stuck and trapped with water starting to spill into the vehicle.
A phone call to her husband, John Marks, in Palmetto meant McClain needed to wait a bit before help would come.
Or so she thought.
Three Braden River High football players, Demetrius Lawson, Devontay Seabrooks and Paul Wiggins, watched it happen and they took action along with Lawson’s father, Demetrius Sr.
They waded through the rising water and pushed McClain’s van onto dry land.
“A lot of water moccasins and there could’ve been an alligator come out, but we didn’t care about that,” said Wiggins, a senior linebacker.
McClain, a senior caregiver, is a Palmetto resident and said Hermine’s flooding was the worst she’s seen in the 20 years she’s been here.
She was driving an 87-year-old woman westbound to her home in the 1700 block of 18th Street West when heavy rain saturated Manatee County last Wednesday.
“We had no idea it was that bad,” the 62-year-old McClain said. “We really did not, not until we were right in the middle of it.”
McClain saw a car with the same ground clearance turn down 17th Avenue West, so she decided to follow.
The wake left behind forced her to turn onto Third Street West to avoid it, but she was stopped where she was.
“I get on the phone with my husband and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, you’re going to have to get here right now,’ ” McClain said. “‘I said, ‘We’re going to have to swim for it.’ ”
But Lawson, Seabrooks and Wiggins were nearby hanging out at Lawson’s house after the impending storm canceled all extracurricular school activities last Wednesday.
So the three were upstairs in Lawson’s house talking when McClain got stuck for roughly 15 to 20 minutes. Lawson’s father called the three football players downstairs, and they pushed through to rescue McClain and her elderly passenger from the flooded street.
“You have to put yourself in other people’s situation,” said Demetrius Lawson Jr., a senior defensive back. “You wouldn’t want to be stuck there, helpless in the rain. ... If I was in that situation, I’d want somebody to help so I’d help them.”
McClain said she found a $20 bill to hand them, but they politely declined the offer.
“It really restored my faith in humanity,” McClain said.
They shared what high school they attended and McClain sent head coach Curt Bradley a thank you note via email.
“It’s a happy feeling. Awesome feeling,” Wiggins said.
McClain’s car getting stuck was the first of three that occurred that day, with the group helping to push each one that got stuck. And they even sent a warning to motorists that their car would get stuck if attempting to venture down the road.
“I don’t think we could even leave the house (because it was so flooded),” said Seabrooks, a senior defensive back.
Braden River’s football game against Southeast was canceled due to the deluge that Hurricane Hermine wrought.
But that didn’t matter, because the Pirates were winners off the field with the good deed performed from Lawson, Seabrooks, Wiggins and Lawson’s father.
“It was a tremendous email saying they were her heroes that day,” Bradley said. “Which is pretty special to hear as far as that these guys are representing the program well on and off the field. It’s a testament to how they were raised. And just some of the things that Braden River High School does, and we try to keep that through the program. Just proud of these three young men for the job that they did.”
This week’s schedule
Auburndale Jordan Chr. Prep at Out-of-Door Academy, 7 p.m.
Bradenton Christian at Zephyrhills Christian, 7 p.m.
Cardinal Mooney at Tampa Berkeley Prep, 7 p.m.
Cape Coral Ida Baker at Braden River, 7:30 p.m.
Lakewood Ranch at Sarasota Riverview, 7:30
Manatee at Venice, 7:30
Saint Stephen’s at Clearwater Calvary Christian, 7:30
Southeast at Palmetto, 7:30
IMG Academy vs. Tulsa Booker T. Washington, at Shreveport, La., 8 p.m.