Alyssa Ramirez was leaving prom last Saturday night when the floodwaters that ravaged half of Texas swept her away, only two miles from her home. A high school senior in Devine, Texas, just south of San Antonio, Alyssa—“Lyss” to her friends—was her school’s Homecoming Queen, Student Council president, and yearbook co-editor, and played both tennis and volleyball. Her friend, Cody Campbell, posted this on Instagram the following day:
“I don’t get why things happen the way they do, but they do. Alyssa, you were an amazing human being. Your love for God, your obsession with cats, and the funny things you would say—just to name a few. I was lucky to spend your last night with you.”
Texas has been hard hit this month: to the west, in Wichita Falls, the record for rainfall in May has already been broken; in Dallas, the Trinity River is at 39 feet, one foot shy of threatening industrial areas and closing bridges serving downtown; to the southeast, Houston has been hit with both flooding and an F1 tornado.
Leaving her high school prom in San Antonio, Alyssa made it 34 of the 36 miles safely home and then, according to her aunt, Roberta Ramirez, was caught in a flash flood: “She called 911. She called her father, but it was just too much and too quick.”
Alyssa’s mother and father went to look for her, but the floods had already swept away her car. They weren’t able to find her until this morning. When crews went out to the area where her car stalled, they were able to locate the vehicle, which wasn’t too far away.
A local reporter for the Devine News & Sports tweeted on Tuesday that Sheriff Randy Brown was swept underwater as he attempted to rescue the teen. “Spoken to Randy 1,000 times,” the reporter tweeted. “Never heard him this emotional-he did what he could.”
In spite of her many stand-out accomplishments, Alyssa is remembered most for her faith—there’s not a mention of her on social media that doesn’t reference what was most important in her life.
Her sister Cynthia told me on Twitter that Alyssa “had a heart for God like no one else. She inspired everyone around her to be a better person in the way she loved people.” Her pastor, Mike Barrera of First Baptist Church in Devine, concurred:
“Alyssa was very active in her church community, there wasn’t a girl or guy she didn’t have time for, she was one of those kinds of kids I think was born with a smile on her face and it was just a blessing that she was A-OK with the Lord when she died, there was no doubt about that. You know she was hoping to be an optometrist, she was graduating, I think she was number 6 or 7 in her class, so many things ahead, but we know where she is—and that brings us peace.”
The Devine high school superintendent, who noted that Alyssa played tennis and volleyball and was “an outstanding member of the cheer squad,” sent The Daily Beast the following statement:
We are at a loss for words in this tragic event. Our students, staff, and community have come together in love and expressions of faith in God to find comfort and help at this time. It is difficult to even know what to say to you. I have known Alyssa her entire life through church and school. She grew up on the ranch across the road from our ranch… Alyssa was a wonderful student and inspiration and blessing to all who knew her. She will be deeply missed by our entire community.
Tonight there will be a visitation until 9 o’clock followed by a prayer meeting; the funeral is on Wednesday and on Saturday her high school plans to hold a memorial service as well.