Community remembers heroism of 12-year-old killed in Norristown fire

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The sidewalk outside the church was lined with people Saturday who came to say goodbye to 12-year-old Sanford Harling in Norristown. (WPVI)

The sidewalk outside the church was lined with people Saturday who came to say goodbye to 12-year-old Sanford Harling in Norristown.

Friends and family members called out his nickname, "Man-Man," as his casket was lifted onto a fire truck.

Sanford died trying to save his father from a fire that broke out at his home on Feb. 5 in Norristown.

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A Montgomery County family is mourning the loss of one of their own.



"He chose to go and try to save his father. And that's just courage on his side. He didn't think about himself. He thought about his dad," said Barbara Peeples, cousin.

Family members tell us five people made it out of the burning home safely, but Sanford ran back in when he thought his father, who was recovering from hip surgery, was still inside.



His father ended up jumping from a second-story window. He's still recovering from a broken back at Paoli Hospital.

A medical team transported him to the church for his son's funeral.

The boy's mother was help up by loved ones as she left the church. Those who attended the service say the focus was on Sanford's sacrifice and heroism.

"I think it was a heartfelt experience for all of us in the community," said Pastor Byron Craig of Macedonia Baptist Church. "It makes us look at ourselves and ask the question: Would we make that same kind of sacrifice."

While the service brought the community together to grieve, folks say it also gave them a chance to bring back good memories of a boy with a larger-than-life personality.

"He would do the Nae Nae and stuff, we would make up nick names together," said Alijeleyah Hirschfeld of Norristown.

"Full of life. Always joking around, had a good time. Loved the coaches. Loved his teammates," said Gerry DiNolfi, Norristown Youth Eagles Football.

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