Family of Texas Mom Who Died Saving 3-Year-Old Daughter From Hurricane Harvey Flood Is 'Devastated,' Says Officer
The 3-year-old girl whose mother died saving her from a flood in Beaumont, Texas, on Tuesday is “doing well” and “reunited with her family,” officials tell PEOPLE.
Colette Sulcer, 41, and her child — who has not been identified — were driving in their hometown of Beaumont when their vehicle got stuck in high water from Hurricane Harvey.
When Sulcer and her daughter exited the vehicle, they were swept a half mile away from the car.
“Rescue divers in a Zodiac boat, spotted the mother floating with the small child. The child was holding on to her mother,” according to a Beaumont Police Department press release. “The first responders got to the mother and child just before they went under a trestle. Water was up to the trestle and first responders would not have been able to save the child if they had floated under it.”
When officers pulled them to safety, Sulcer was unresponsive and her toddler was suffering from hypothermia. CPR was performed and both the mother and daughter were rushed to a waiting ambulance, according to police.
Sulcer died, but the child “survived, miraculously,” officer Carol Riley, a spokeswoman for the Beaumont Police Department, tells PEOPLE. “She is absolutely precious, everyone in the hospital fell in love with her.
“But it’s heart-wrenching to think of her growing up without her mother.”
Riley, who delivered the death notification to Sulcer’s family, says they are “staying strong” but “absolutely devastated.”
“The family is counting their blessings when they can,” she adds. “I don’t believe she’s married, but the baby’s father lives in Houston.”
On Tuesday, only hours after Sulcer was found dead, Riley told PEOPLE the devoted mother “absolutely saved the child’s life.”
“They were in the water for quite some time,” Riley says. “When the baby was found, the baby was clinging to her. The mother did the best she could to keep her child up over the water.
“The baby also had a backpack that was helping her float on her back and she was holding on to her mom.”
Harvey, a record-shattering storm, touched down as a Category 4 hurricane on Friday, dumping several inches of rain on the Texas Coastal Bend. The storm left homes flooded, many without power and several buildings destroyed.
Local officials reported 30 confirmed and suspected flood-related deaths according to the New York Times.