|The fire scene|
He could have escaped then, too, but he knew his brother Sean was still in the house, so he went back in to save him. Neither boy was to emerge.
I've dealt with emergencies and fires since I was a teenager, and this story bears out one thing I've seen a thousand times: it doesn't even matter how old one is. If it's in you to respond correctly in a jam, you will do so. Even at 8 years of age, Decerio knew.
“We mourn his passing, but we need to celebrate the actions of this little 8-year-old boy in his life,” said Councilman William “Pete” Welch. “We very seldom see adults do what he did. And, in a very short period of time, to develop that type of character and love is enormous,” he added.
To honor his commitment to family, the city named the young man's block Decerio Coley Way as a way of reminding all "what it means to be loving and brave," said community members at the recent street-naming dedication ceremony.
Right after an emergency or tough situation, you will often find people strutting around, talking about how much they did to help, what they would have done had they been in charge, or how everyone else did everything wrong. It's a good idea to avoid these people. It's July, after all, and if you need hot air, you can just step outside and get all you want.
The next time you see an emergency unfold, watch for the person who is not running around hollering, but quietly doing what needs to be done. Their instincts to do the right thing kick in, and they get the job done. Young Decerio had those instincts. I doubt that he had studied what to do to rescue his baby sister. He saw something that needed to be done, something that required the biggest sacrifice of all, and he did it.
If you would like to help the McCullough family, M&T Bank is administering a fund. Contact them at any branch, in honor of a little guy who did more than a lot of big guys ever would.