Crews recovered the body of Lyle Eagletail Saturday afternoon, ending the nearly 3-day recovery operation at Falls Park.
Eagletail, 28, was the second of two people who disappeared in the Big Sioux River Thursday night. He and 16-year-old Madison Wallace jumped into the river at Falls Park to save Madison's six-year-old brother, Garrett.
Garrett made it out of the water safely, but the heroes never came back. Crews searched the icy water for more than 36 hours before finishing the recovery operation.
While the search crews and family members have left Falls Park, the emotions of the day can still be felt out at the river, nearly two days after Eagletail jumped into the river to save a life.
"I think of my son as the biggest hero; he sacrificed himself for that little child and that's the way his grandmother brought him up with much love and respect," said Lyle's Mother Margaret Eagletail.
After recovering her son, Lyle's mother says she finally has some peace.
"Especially for the families, you want some closure, which goes for rescuers also. We understand the feelings involved with this, we have some of the same feelings. We want some closure and it is good comfort to us all to have closure for the families and for ourselves," said Division Chief Jeff Helm with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue.
But the scene of Saturday's recovery was more than anyone could handle.
Lyle's mother rushed to the body of her son as rescue crews carried him into the ambulance. She fell to the ground in anguish as family members and officers on the scene tried to console her.
"I can only imagine the feelings that are going through them and Madison's family at this time and our condolences," said Helm.
Lyle's family members spent all of Friday and Saturday at the river, praying and waiting for him to be found.
"It's so hard to be able to help one another and support one another without the support the concern the cares and mainly the prayers of each and every one of the people," said Lyle's Grandmother Caroline Quickbear.
The end of this long recovery process also filled search crews and volunteers at the site with some strong emotions.
"There's some relief that their job has been done for that part, they understand that the emotions are still going to be there; it's a major grief process that people are going to go through," said Helm.
After the initial shock of the recovery, Eagletail's family went down to personally thank all of the crews who helped bring their loved one back.
"Thank you to all of these volunteers all of these workers that have pulled my son out," said Margaret Eagletail.
"We are so thankful to you for everything that you have done for us and everything that you have given to us that really helped us through this time of need; thank you so much," said Quickbear.
Many people stopped by the Falls Saturday evening after the park reopened, paying their respects to the lives that were lost over the weekend.
Eagletail's family hopes their son's death will serve as a reminder to everyone to be cautious near the Falls for many years to come.
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