SIOUX FALLS, SD -
The Sioux Falls man who lost his life while helping save a little boy last week is being remembered as a hero.
Lyle Eagle Tail was one of two people who jumped into the Big Sioux River at Falls Park last Thursday to help rescue six-year-old Garrett Wallace, who had fallen over the edge. While the little boy made it to safety, his 16-year-old sister, Madison Wallace and Lyle Eagle Tail were trapped under the ice.
Madison Wallace's body was found Friday afternoon, after search crews brought in special equipment to break-up the ice and control the foam on the river. Lyle Eagle Tail's body was recovered Saturday afternoon.
While Eagle Tail's family is struggling with his death, they take comfort in knowing he died saving the life of a little boy.
"He was my first child. I'm going to miss him too much, too. I don't know. I still can't believe it today," Lyle Eagle Tail's mother Margaret Eagle Tail said.
Margaret Eagle Tail is still in shock. Trying to come to terms with the death of her son Lyle is emotionally difficult. Lyle drowned in the Big Sioux River after jumping in to save the life of a six-year-old boy at Falls Parks.
"He is a hero. He just sacrificed himself for that little boy, you know. I didn't think about it, but he jumped in right away," Eagle Tail said.
Eagle Tail says her son has always had a helpful nature about him. He was the oldest of seven children and enjoyed spending time with his siblings and extended family while growing up.
Now, they're supporting each other as they work through the emotions of his death. Eagle Tail says it's the Lakota way - to support each other in a time like this.
The family has followed Lakota tradition. They returned to Falls Park and sprinkled medicine on the ground where his body was pulled from the river. They've also placed memorials under a nearby tree.
"I'm very proud of my son, but I'm still sad," Eagle Tail said.
Lyle Eagle Tail was born in Rapid City and his body will be transported there Tuesday with an escort from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.
A fund has been set up at Wells Fargo bank named the Family of Lyle Eagle Tail Memorial Fund to help pay for funeral expenses.
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