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8-Year-Old Hero Dies After Trying to Save Younger Brother in Fire

Decerio Coley, 8, died Tuesday from injuries suffered when he tried to rescue his 6-year-old brother, Sean McCullough, from a house fire. Decerio was able to save his 4-year-old sister from the blaze.

Decerio Coley, 8, died Tuesday from injuries suffered when he tried to rescue his 6-year-old brother, Sean McCullough, from a house fire. Credit: Screenshot from WBAL TV
Decerio Coley, 8, died Tuesday from injuries suffered when he tried to rescue his 6-year-old brother, Sean McCullough, from a house fire. Credit: Screenshot from WBAL TV

An 8-year-old boy who saved his younger sister from a house fire died after he was removed from life support, but is being remembered as a hero for his actions in the west Baltimore blaze.

Decerio Coley, 8, died Tuesday at Johns Hopkins Children's Center. He was fatally injured when he went back into the burning house Monday night in a futile attempt to rescue his 6-year-old brother, Sean.

"God felt it was time for them to go home. They did their job. They fulfilled it," Rokea McCullough told WBAL TV on Tuesday.

The fire started about 1:30 a.m. Monday at the family's home in the 300 block of North Bruce Street. McCullough said she was outside talking to a neighbor when flames shot out of the house.

Decerio first punched out a second-floor window and threw his 4-year-old sister, Winter, to people waiting below. He then went back in to try to save brother, Sean McCullough.

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"He knew his brother wasn't with him, and the only reason why my baby is gone now is because he went back to get his brother. He sacrificed his own life to try to save his brother," Rokea McCullough told the TV station.

Tiffany Bennett, Decerio's grandmother, told The Baltimore Sun the family plans to donate “his body to help others." She said the boy would be an organ donor.

Firefighters found the boys on the second floor of their rowhouse. Sean was pronounced dead soon after, while Decerio was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

The boys's uncle, Ronnie Davis, said he had heard onlookers told Decerio to jump.

"He said, 'No, Sean is still there,'" Davis told The Sun. "Then he went back for his brother even though it was still burning."

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McCullough believes the fire started in the dining room, just below the children's room. Fire officials are still investigating the cause and origin of the fire.

The Sun reports the children's father had been working an overnight shift at 7-Eleven when the fire happened. The grandparents and the children's mother had been in the basement and managed to get out.

The family is planning a vigil on North Bruce Street on Friday.

Harold Sullivan June 22, 2014 at 07:05 AM
"God felt it was time for them to go home." ... so he burned 2 children in a house fire. If "[the children] did their job", though I don't see how being bait for the death of your sibling is a job, then why wouldn't God choose a less painful way to die?
Jacqueline Underwood June 22, 2014 at 11:47 AM
ok first mom said she was outside talking to a neighbor at 130 am then the reporter said mom and grandparents were down stairs in basement mom thinks fire took place directly under childrens room both boys pass away were the adults drug tested? I feel the 8 year old was very mature to try and save them me being a mother to 4 I wouldve ran in threw my kids out and wouldve jeopardized my own life not my 8 year old. RIP to them 2 little baby boys
Barry V June 22, 2014 at 11:48 AM
I only hope that I have the courage of this special child if the situation calls for it.
ladypoet June 23, 2014 at 12:53 AM
May God bless these childre n and may they rest in peace. I could never watch a child take on such an adult task of saving someone, makes you wonder if he took care of the kids on a regular.
Rika Windt June 28, 2014 at 06:14 AM
Kan het niet begrijpen als de moeder buiten stond dan had ze ook wel moeten horen de vlammen hulpgeroep end.het jongetje heeft proberen te redden wat er te redden valt met zijn eigen leven ,en de moeder en de rest van de familie waar waren jullie wat deden jullie ,ik kan niet begrijpen dat men nadien zegt dat ze bij god zijn nu maar dat is toch het ergste wat ouders kunnen overkomen je kinderen kwijtraken,dat is vreselijk,ik kan er niet zo makkelijk over denken als deze moeder,echt niet,je kinderen zijn waardevolste op de wererld die je bezit.Voor de jongen is dit een heldendaad maar triest dat hij is overleden hierdoor,triest diep diep triest dat het zo moest gaan,rust in vrede lieve kindertjes .

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