Flood waters raged around the Rice family and Jordan, 13, couldn't swim but he told rescuers "take my brother first".
Moments later, Jordan and his mother were swept to their deaths in the Queensland 2011 floods while his younger brother Blake was pulled to safety.
For grieving father John Tyson, one thing was certain: his elder son's act of bravery would be remembered.
His petition to have his son awarded the Cross of Valour posthumously was the most signed victorious petition of 2016, with 305,991 supporters.
He told The Huffington Post Australia that the people who signed his petition gave him something which the government couldn't.
"Thousands of people get the Cross of Valour but because of this petition, it's like it was an award from the people," Tyson told HuffPost Australia.
"People power forced the pollies to act when it was clear that otherwise nothing would have happened so it means all the more.
"It's an award from the people."
His petition is now the most signed victory in Change.Org Australia's history.
The most-signed petitions of 2016
Jordan's act of bravery to be remembered.
A successful call to decriminalise medicinal cannabis, launched by the parents of a terminally ill man.
A 16-year-old girl's call for the PM to review milk pricing.
A mother's desperate call to expedite life-saving cancer surgery when she was on a NSW waiting list.
Change.Org is increasingly getting results and attention from the highest levels of influence. One in six Australians have signed or started a Change.Org petition, and Australian head Nathan Elvery told HuffPost Australia it wasn't uncommon for petitions to change legislation or draw comment from the likes of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce or Health Minister Sussan Ley.
"It's exciting to see how far the platform has grown and how that can create a more responsive and accountable political class," Elvery said.
"It's giving everyday people more power to affect change."
What Australians cared most about in 2016
Of all the petitions that reach over 10k signatures, the top themes were:
Health – 351,636 signatures resulted in two major victories
Women – 257,683 signatures resulted in seven major victories
Crime and justice – 214,291 signatures resulted in three major victories
Farming - 161,495 signatures resulted in one major victory
Animals - 96,799 signatures resulted in one major victory
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