Loved ones gather for funeral held for boy who died trying to rescue father from fire

- It was an emotional goodbye to a young, local hero.

12-year-old Sanford Harling III of Norristown paid the ultimate sacrifice last week. 

Investigators say he entered his family's burning home in an attempt to save his father's life.  Dad survived.  The boy didn't.

Harling’s aunt said, “San was a good boy - that boy was auntie's hero and what he did I think any other child would do for the love of a parent.”

Harling's father was granted special permission to leave the hospital to attend his son's funeral.   Strapped in a stretcher and shedding a tear - Sanford Harling II told his son he will never leave his side.

Harling's act of courage was honored by the Norristown fire department.   After the funeral service, members of the department lifted the boy's casket and placed it on top of a fire truck draped in black bunting. The first responders escorted the child's body to his final resting place.

“Very sad...but the family has many friends and many people supporting them - that’s a good thing,” family friend Thomas Wicker said.

A lot of support for a boy affectionately called "Man Man" -- friends say his spirit was bright - he was loved by all.

“He was a great dancer - made everyone laugh,” Alijeleyah Hirschfeld, Harling’s friend, said.  “He was everybody's buddy - he played football a lot.”

“He gave you a reason to smile,” Destiny Edwards, Harling’s friend, said.

These friends attended the funeral wearing t-shirts that honor a life cut too short.

Norristown resident Evelyn Sewell said, “He was a really good boy - he will be truly missed by each and every one of us - he's a hero.”

There is an ongoing fundraiser for the family set up online to help them recover from the fire - no amount of money will bring back Man Man - but it will help them get back on their feet - pay medical bills - buy clothes and other essentials lost in the fire.

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