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.
"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."
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.