YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Yonkers community on Monday was mourning the loss of a man many are calling hero, after he died trying to save a child from drowning.

“Yonkers has really lost a good one,” Angela Bailey said of Boyce “Scoop” Coleman, who died Sunday.

Police said it all began shortly before 7 p.m. when they started getting calls about a child in the Hudson River during an annual community barbecue near the John F. Kennedy Marina.

The boy’s mother said she stepped away to go the bathroom, but asked a friend to watch her 6-year-old son Stephen, who is mildly autistic and loves water.

“I came back, and they thought there was fighting. But it was my son in the water,” Thema Martin told CBS 2’s Diane Macedo.

That’s when Coleman and another man jumped into the water to save the child, she said.

“I’ve seen them swim to him. They got him,” Martin said. “Scoop was out of breath or something because I see him stop – like, a little from my son – I see him stop, and came up, and his neck — I see his neck, but then after that, I turned back around and didn’t see him anymore.”

While the boy was pulled from the water safely, Coleman vanished for more than an hour.

“We turned around, we seen another guy go down. I was screaming, telling them, ‘please get the guy who’s drowning,’ but nobody could get to him,” one woman said.

Police then conducted an extensive search and he was finally pulled from the water around 8 p.m. He was transported to St. John’s Riverside Hospital in Yonkers, but was pronounced dead.

Friends said it was a big loss not just for Coleman’s family, but for the community as a whole.

“If he saw you coming out of the grocery store with bags of groceries, he’d help you even if he didn’t know you,” one woman said. “That’s the type of person he was.”

“He died doing God’s work, in front of everybody that he loved,” another person told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams. “It hurts, but I feel confident and know that he is with the Lord.”

“He was a tall man, and his size would intimidate you a little bit,” Ricardo, Coleman’s friend, told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones. “But when you got to know him, he talked to you like a person.”

“A lot of people went in the water to save that young boy and one of those heroes became a tragic victim himself, so our prayers go out to his family,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano.

The child was also transported to a local hospital where he was expected to make a full recovery.

The investigation into the incident is still ongoing. Anyone who has any information is asked to call the Detective Division (914) 377-7724.

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