Malachi Dupre, Brandon Harris and two of their friends were just going for a joyride Sunday night. They piled into the big, white truck belonging to Logan Jean, Dupre’s roommate, to cruise around the high waters pervading Baton Rouge after two straight days of heavy rainfall.
But when they reached the Walk-On’s parking lot flanking Burbank Drive, they quickly found out they were the only ones enjoying themselves. Several cars that tried to brave the flooding on Burbank became submerged, leaving the motorists in need of assistance.
The four friends offered helping hands however they could.
“We got to Walk-On’s and we realized there were some people in need,” Dupre said. “They had a guy in Walk-On’s parking lot that I had known previously. He saw that it was me and said, ‘Hey, Malachi, there’s people that need help.’ When that happened, a guy had a BMW and we got that one out the water and helped him.”
The car belonged to one of many people Dupre, Harris and their friends aided Sunday night. They helped people move their water-logged vehicles to higher ground, but one instance stuck out more than the others.
A woman approached Dupre in hysterics.
“She had told me her son needed insulin, and it was in a car that was flooded,” he said. “I remembered seeing the car that she was talking about. It was a in deep spot, completely submerged. You could see the roof, but the water came up to the window and the inside of the car was completely full of water.” The woman, who WAFB identified as Jennette Franklin, had lost her husband that same day. She was on the way back to Baton Rouge from New Orleans with her possessions when she drove into the flood on Burbank.
Harris and the others soon spoke to Franklin. When she retold her story, they sprang into action.
“I remember it looked like a movie,” Dupre said. “Brandon found out which car was hers, took off running and literally dove into the water in the middle of Burbank.”
They never recovered the insulin, but Franklin’s 12-year- old son went inside Walk-On’s, where the owner gave him something sweet for his diabetes. The LSU sophomores and their buddies were assisting motorists for about two hours, Dupre said, and spent the majority of their time waving people away at the Nicholson and Burbank intersection.
Harris was not made available for interviews.
Flood waters caused the barricades to drift off, and many drivers couldn’t see how high the water was. Not everybody listened to them, even when Jean blew the train horn attached to his truck.
“We had one girl that was in an Ultima and drove right next to us,” Dupre said. “We were like, ‘Stop, stop.’ She rolled right past us going into the water. ...We got right next to her and were like,’ Roll your window down. Put your car in reverse,’ but she drove straight into the water. Next thing you know, there’s water in her car.”
Dupre said only one person recognized him and Harris, two of the biggest stars on the team. He was just fine that.
“It doesn’t matter that we play football for LSU, we just wanted to help anybody we possibly can,” Dupre said. “We didn’t go out looking to be anybody’s savior or anything. ...I don’t want it to be a surprise to everyone that we were out there helping, and I don’t want it to be blown up as big as it has been.
“It’s not a big deal. It’s just another thing that we did in life to just help others. That’s how we are.”
Leonard Fournette, economy sized
Offensive tackle Vadal Alexander said he was a bit old to be out trick or treating, but if he did he knew what costume he’d pick.
“I’d wear a Leonard jersey,” he said. “I’d get all the candy then.”
Alexander laughed at what kind of reaction he would get: “‘Hey, Leonard, you’ve put on some weight, huh?’”
Fournette is 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, while Alexander measures in at 6-6, 320.
LSU-WKU big for ESPNU
The Leonard Fournette factor strikes again.
ESPN announced Wednesday that viewership for last Saturday’s LSU-Western Kentucky game was the best for any ESPNU college football game in more than three years, a span of 213 telecasts. The game drew 1.247 million viewers. Specific rating numbers were not given.
Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais contributed to this report.