Beaumont fire-rescue Capt. Brad Penisson told the Associated Press that a witness saw the mother carrying her young child, apparently trying to get them to drier ground when water rushing from an overflowing drainage canal swept them away.
"They were in the water for quite some time", she continued.
Emergency rescue officials were able to recover the mother and child and CPR performed on the woman, who was unresponsive due to hypothermia.
Rescuers lifted them into the boat and tried to revive the Beaumont mother, but Penisson said she never regained consciousness.
Two police officers and fire rescue officers used a rubber boat to reach the pair and managed to drag them onto the boat.
Police spokeswoman Carol Riley told People that the mother "absolutely saved the child's life".
"The mother did the best she could to keep her child up over the water". At some point, officials say the mother got out of the auto with her child and swept into a canal. "Water was up to the trestle and first responders would not have been able to save the child if they had floated under it". According to Riley, it was clear that the toddler survived because her mother prioritized her child's safety over hers. "When the baby was found the baby was clinging to her". However, police officials said they were withholding the identities of the child and her dead 41-year-old mother until the father returns.
15 people have died as Hurricane Harvey sweeps across the nation, and the wild weather could now strike New Orleans. The child is in stable condition.
A fearless mother saved her three-year-old daughter from drowning in the Texas floods - but sacrificed her own life in the process.
At least 18 people have now been killed by Harvey since Friday, when it made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane.
Neighboring Louisiana is set to bear the brunt of the tropical storm's massive downpours today, with flash flood warnings in place across the entire state. It made a second landfall early on Wednesday morning.