Family, friends and an entire community mourned a 12-year-old Norristown boy who died while trying to save his father from a house fire.
A memorial service for 12-year-old Sanford Harling, III was held late Saturday morning at the Christian Network Outreach, United Church of Christ in Norristown.
Harling died in a fire at his home on the 1000 block of Markley Street in Norristown back on February 5. Harling and his family were inside when the fire started on the first floor of the twin home. Flames quickly spread to the second floor and were so intense that windows burst. While Sanford escaped, he realized that his father, who was recovering from a recent surgery, hadn’t made it out. The boy ran back into the home but never returned, family members said. He was later found dead inside the burned out house. His father ultimately made it out alive after jumping out of a window.
“That’s true love,” said Thomas Wicker, a family friend. “You can’t get any better than that.”
While the father, Sanford Harling, Jr., has remained in the hospital, doctors made special arrangements to get him to the church Saturday for his son’s memorial service. Firefighters who responded to the tragic fire also attended the service.
“I think a lot of people really have that young man on their heart right now,” said Christian Network Outreach Bishop Bruce Allen.
Bishop Allen told NBC10 people cared so much about the boy that they donated a heater to the church after its furnace failed in order to allow Saturday’s ceremony to happen. Other attendees made t-shirts in the boy’s memory.
“He was a really good boy,” said Evelyn Sewell, another family friend. “He will be truly missed by each and every one of us. He’s a hero.”