Pennsylvania Boy, 12, Dies After Running Back Inside Burning Home To Save Father, Who Was Unable To Walk Due To Hip Surgery

A brave 12-year-old boy, Sandford “Man Man” Harling, of Norristown, Pennsylvania, died after running back into his burning home to save his father, whose name is also Sanford, but he didn’t realize his father was among those who jumped out of the window to safety. According to the Daily Mail, a fire erupted at a three-story town home on Markley Street at approximately 8:54 a.m. on Friday, causing a family of five to climb out of a back window in order to survive.

Witness Tree Alexander stated that “The family was jumping out the back window. At one point they realized somebody else was in there and they turned and tried to run back in, and the neighbors were actually pulling them back to keep them from coming in because there still weren’t any cops here.”

However, there was no stopping Harling as he bolted through the front door, attempting to save his father who recently underwent hip surgery and was unable to walk, from his burning home, not realizing that his father was among those who jumped out of the back window.

When the Norristown fire department arrived at the scene, the home was still ablaze, hindering the firemen from rescuing the boy, who went back inside the burning home to save his father. When the fire was tamed, Harling’s body was found face-down under the kitchen table.

Meanwhile, the surviving members stood outside in the freezing cold for hours, watching the firemen put out the fire while grieving over the tragic death of Harling. According to New York Daily News, the pre-teen’s father was later transported to a local hospital for treatment after he was injured as he jumped out of the window.

Percy Jones III, who is a board member for the “Norristown Youth Eagles where Harling played football,” stated that Harling’s bravery didn’t come as a shock to him. He added that “Not too many grown men would run back in after their family member. He went back in without thinking about it and I didn’t expect anything less from him.”

“I know they had a very close relationship. Every Sunday they went to church together. They always matched, head to toe. When I heard he went back in for his father, I didn’t expect anything less from him.”

An obituary was later released for the young hero by Norristown City Councilman Hakim Jones that read: “Born on June 6, 2003, Sanford, also known as “Man Man”, was only 12-years-old and a member of our Norristown Youth Eagles football family. In 2015, he played on the sixth grade team. On the football field, Sanford could be seen cheering on his teammates and praying for them. Off the field, his personality was bright and comical.”

“He is survived by his loving mother, Dana, his father Sanford, Jr., and his siblings. Our goal is to raise money to help the family recover what they lost in the fire and to give Sanford the proper burial that a hero deserves. We are hoping that our community will come together to ease this family’s pain during this difficult time. Any amount will help and 100% of the funds raised will go to the Harling family.”

After the Pennsylvania boy died trying to save his father from their burning home, a GoFundMe page was set up to help with funeral costs, as well as to help the family as they lost everything in the house fire. With the help of over 600 people, the family has reached an aggregate of $27,683, slightly more than what they were asking for.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, but an investigation is underway.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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