A man dies a hero and Warrior

Native and non-Native alike are mourning Lyle Eagle Tail, who passed on as a hero while trying to save a 6-year-old boy from the raging waters of the Big Sioux River on the evening of Thursday March 14.

The 28-year-old was passing by when 6-year-old Garrett Martin Wallace fell into the river, police told CNN. First the boy’s sister, 16-year-old Madison Leigh Wallace, jumped in to try and save him and was pulled under.

Garrett survived, but Madison’s body was found on Saturday morning, and Eagle Tail's was pulled from the river at about 2 p.m. on Saturday, CNN affiliate KSFY News reported.

Eagle Tail also jumped into the river to try and grab Garrett. He was pulled under despite others’ attempts to hold onto him, including his friend, 21-year-old Napoleon Ducheneaux.

"We had him ... but he just slipped," Ducheneaux told CNN affiliate KSFY. "I heard him say, 'Hold onto me, I'll hold onto you.' That was the last I heard his voice."

Mounds of foam as much as 10 feet deep, characteristic of the falls this time of year, were hampering rescue and recovery efforts, along with river debris and a sheet of ice that had to be broken up, authorities told the Associated Press.

Ducheneaux told AP that Eagle Tail had been holding onto each sibling with one hand, but that his hands then began to slide before he “slipped and disappeared.” The boy got out or was pulled from the river—AP said it was not clear whether he had been in the water itself, or just obscured by foam—and was not injured.

Also with Eagle Tail was Arthur Eaglefeather, who recounted the tragedy to local broadcaster Kelo-TV.

"We were just hanging out, throwing rocks in the river. Then we started hearing people screaming. I came running," Eaglefeather said, according to the station. They tried to grab onto Garrett, he said. When it didn’t work, his friend went in.

The search for Eagle Tail’s body was suspended late Friday because river conditions were too dangerous, AP said.

Condolences were pouring in for Eagle Tail, who people said died a hero and warrior.

“As uncle to Lyle Francis Eagle Tail Thunder Hawk, he should be recognized as a true warrior for giving up his own life for another,” wrote Harold Wayne Eagle Tail of El Cajon, California, on the Facebook page of the Native Citizen News Network. “It shows true humanity and love for another, in this we would like for him to be recognized as a true hero warrior and special prayers for his dad and mom and brothers and sisters.”


Responses to "Native Man Drowns Trying to Pluck 6-Year-Old Boy From Great Sioux River in South Dakota"

  1. Anonymous says:

    A true hereo! This story brought tears to my eyes but also reminded me that there still are truly good people in the world. Please watch over us Eagle Tail.

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. Anonymous says:

    warrior a hero a love for life he gave his own to someone he didn't know he gave his best but the river of mother earth was to much of a fight for his kind heart . A warrior he was is now an angel that will look after us from the sky .may you RIP

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ina Your son did good, have pride in your heart where the pain of lost of him. This comes from another Ina who recently lost her only son KIA in afganistan..

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family

  5. Anonymous says:

    My thoughts and prayers to the famiily at this sad time. This man was a true hero.

  6. casey says:

    I am so sorry for your communities loss.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Why isn't Madison Leigh Wallace mentioned as a hero here as well?--she is every bit the hero too for trying to save her brother-and she wasn't found till Saturday either-but for some strange reason she's not mentioned as a hero here.Madison is a hero for trying to save her brother-and should be mentioned.

  8. Betty says:

    Prayer's for you and your family.No greater gift then to give your life for another.Be proud of the son God gave you for awhile.Blessings.

  9. Anonymous says:

    He soars in flite with the mighty eagle, take heart...he is with our creator and our warriors that have gone before.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful young spirit, thank you. You are an inspiration.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Condolances for the sister and the man trying to save the boy.

  12. Mary says:

    My deepest condolences to the family of both victims. My prayers are with you.

  13. Anonymous says:

    My heart breaks for the families. Altruism at it's best.

  14. deedee says:

    both who died "gave up their lives for another" and "Greater love has no man/woman then to lay their life down for someone else" Jesus.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Sending prayers and condolences for both families for their loss. Lyle was truly a hero with a big heart for a fellow human being. So was Madison. Both gave their lives for another.

  16. Prayers to the families.. you are in our thoughts and hearts

  17. Unknown says:

    My deepest condolences to the family. My brother past away 5 months ago trying to same the life of a 8 yr old boy from drowning unfortunately both perish. HE Die a Hero. Eagle Tail Die As A Warrior And A Hero. Those are the people that we remember and our hearts and minds and they will never be forgotten....

  18. Anonymous says:

    My prayers and thoughts are with his loved ones. He is a true hero and warrior and he should be recognised as such. It's very dangerous trying to save a drowning person but it's in a true human nature to help them even at the risk of losing their own life. What greater honor and bravery could he have shown in the face of such tragedy? May he forever soar high in the wind with eagles!

  19. Anonymous says:

    a true hero....kath..

  20. Anonymous says:

    a true warrior who gave his life to try and save another with no question's asked he just did it. he is with our creator now standing proud and tall for what he sacerficed for and other our creator will keep him safe now and also the sister is a true hero she also gave her life her trying to do what was rite with no question's asked she also has to remembered in the highest respect that she is entidled too she is also with our creator and being held safe untill she is reunited with her loved one's my prayer's go out to all thou's who have lost these loved one's wayne whitstone edmonton alberts canada

  21. Anonymous says:

    The loss of life is always painful but the loss of a good human being who sacrifices his life for another's is felt throughout the universe. My thoughts & prayers are being sent to both families on their losses and that both families should be proud of their loved ones who tried desperately to save the life of another being. Blessings to all.

  22. Dream says:

    The sister deserves a hero's acknowledgement as well. She also lost her life trying to save this boy.

  23. Unknown says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. He is a true Hero and Warrior. Sending prayers to all of his friends and family. I just lost my husband to drowning and we haven't found him yet after 4 months. I feel so beside myself so I know how bad it hurts. Of course not the same emotions because nobody is the same.

  24. Unknown says:

    Cried so much. Id be forever grateful and forever indebted to the family who sacrificed one of their loved ones to save one of mine 😢😢😢😢😢😢

  25. Pascha Eagle Tail says:

    I love and miss you cuzzin Lyle. You and Madison died heroes..and will be remembered always..

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