Jackson County

Coast teen praised for helping young mom, kids after crash

JUSTIN VICORY/SUN HERALDTaylor Brazell holds Presley Furby, the youngest of three children he helped rescue after a crash.
JUSTIN VICORY/SUN HERALDTaylor Brazell holds Presley Furby, the youngest of three children he helped rescue after a crash.

Taylor Brazell did what many people say they'll do, but few actually do.

After he witnessed a terrible traffic accident involving a mother and her young children, he jumped out of his car, ran over to help and risked his life saving them.

On Wednesday, the humble East Central High senior was recognized for his heroism by Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell, other sheriff's officials, his classmates, family and the mother and her kids.

On the morning of March 3, Taylor was driving to school on Mississippi 63. Shauna Furby was in the car next to him, taking her daughter Jaelyn, 6, and son Nathan, 11, to school.

Brazell said he noticed Furby's car creeping into his lane. They were about 2 miles north of the intersection with Mississippi 614.

"I had to turn to avoid her," he said.

"I started driving off the road a little bit," Furby said. "When I noticed, I tried to turn the car back on the road, but it got too close to (Brazell's) vehicle and I turned hard the other way," she said.

Her car flipped about four or five times, she said.

She remembers having the cruise control set at 70 mph.

When the car came to a stop on its side, Furby found herself stuck in the back seat. Her hair was pinned between a door and the ground. She could get out, and she couldn't get to her kids.

Then Brazell appeared.

He said he quickly unbuckled Nathan from the back seat. He remembers the first thing Nathan asked him.

"Where's my sister? Where's my sister?"

He unbuckled Jaelyn. "She's OK," Brazell told Nathan. But Nathan kept asking about his sister.

"I was wondering why is he asking me about his sister," Brazell said.

Taylor took the two kids to safety in the median and told them to stay there.

When he returned, he understood Nathan's question.

While working to help the injured and trapped Furby, he noticed an empty infant car seat.

"Where's the baby?!" Furby begged of him. "Where's the baby?"

"That's when it really hit me. There was a baby in that car," Brazell said. But Furby's 4-month-old daughter, Presley, was nowhere to be seen.

He said he ran into the street and started flagging cars down. A couple drivers stopped.

They worked together to raise the car off its side to try to free Furby, who just kept asking about her baby.

Presley was hidden beneath items in the car that had been thrown around by the wreck. Brazell found her and carefully removed her from the wreckage.

He then got a knife from his car to cut Furby's hair loose.

Soon after he began cutting, first responders arrived and helped get her out.

'Could've been worse'

Little Presley suffered a concussion and a bruised liver, and spent a night in the hospital.

Furby had a fractured shoulder blade.

It could've been a lot worse, the survivors said Wednesday.

Brazell's mother, Kay Brazell, had no idea of her son's role in the drama. Really, no one knew. After helping the mother and her children, Taylor Brazell quietly continued on to school.

"I asked him that night. It was about 9 p.m. I asked him if he knew anything about (the crash)," she said.

Only then did she learn of her son's heroic actions.

A surprise

In front of Taylor Brazell's classmates Wednesday, Ezell presented the senior with a letter of commendation, a sheriff's patch and an honorary badge.

"I didn't know what was going on this morning," he said. "I saw my dad walk in (to his class) and was wondering 'What's going on?'"

Then he saw the sheriff, Jackson County sheriff's Sgt. Richard Palmer and other officials in the back of the room. "I saw you guys then," he said, "and I wondered what did I do?"

Palmer said, "You know -- and this is true -- most kids would have just drove on by. Or with the way social media and Facebook is, they would stop just to document it, not help," he said. "So, what you did was pretty remarkable."

In a letter of commendation, Ezell wrote:

"Actions such as these do not go unappreciated. Your brave, selfless actions on that day provided a life-saving service for a family in an emergency situation."

Kay Brazell said she was "extremely happy" to see the Furbys doing so well, considering the severity of the crash. She said she and her husband, Stan Brazell, taught their children to try to do something good every day.

"This is a lesson I got from my mom, which we've handed down to our kids," she said.

Of her son's good deed, she said, "I didn't necessarily mean something this big, but we're so proud of him." A GoFundMe.com account has been set up to help Furby and her family with costs from the accident.