Wang Caihe, 11, and her younger brothers, aged six and four, were visiting a lake in a renowned beauty spot in central China, with their grandmother Wang Zhongyuan, 63.
While her back was turned the trio went to the water’s edge. But the four-year-old slipped on the wet rocks, dragging his brother with him.
At the exact same time Cheng Changjiang, 18, was happily having his photograph taken just a few yards away from the endangered children.
Cheng Changjiang – moments before tragedy struck
When their older sister rushed to help, she also got into difficulty. Cheng, who was the only other person nearby, heard the children’s screams.
With no thought for his own safety, the teenager – who could not swim – waded into the water, pulling two of the stricken children free from danger.
By the time he returned to the water to rescue the third child, a local man, Wan Sun, 31, had rushed to help.
Sun said: ‘He handed me the 11-year-old and I dragged her to the shore, but when I looked for the young man I could not see him. He must have slipped in deeper water.
‘When we pulled him from the water he was dead, there was no chance to save his life.
‘He gave his life for the children, he was a hero.’
Paying tribute to their son, Cheng’s parents, said he had gone to the popular spot to relax after getting stressed over his recent exams.
Father Ling Wu said: ‘It was typical of him. He would not think about putting others before himself.
‘I am proud of him but also devastated.’
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