(CNN) — Police Officer Damon Cole was already a superhero to Joshua Garcia’s family, so they asked him to dress as Spider-Man for the boy’s funeral.
Cole was the first officer on the scene after the 5-year-old boy was reported missing earlier this month in Fort Worth, Texas. The officer went into a murky, back yard swimming pool to search for him, according to a Fort Worth police department spokesman. Before Cole was at the scene, Joshua’s mother was already searching for the small boy, but the water was almost black and there was trash and debris in the pool, obscuring her view.
Cole managed to find Joshua and pulled him out of the water, but rescuers were not able to revive him. Joshua was wearing a Spider-Man shirt and shoes when he died.
“There’s not a minute that has gone by that I haven’t thought about Joshua and his family,” Cole told a Dallas television station.
Cole’s sergeant recommended him for a departmental award, and Joshua’s family presented him with a signed, wooden plaque calling him a “police hero.”
Cole wrote about the incident on his Facebook page, saying it was “the most heartbreaking call of my 16-year police career.”
Joshua’s brothers asked to meet with Cole a few days after the incident. During the meeting, they learned that Cole was part of a group of Dallas-area police officers who dress up as superheroes to cheer up and inspire kids.
Cole regularly drives his custom Superman Dodge Charger to visit kids with cancer dressed up as Batman, Iron Man and Spider-Man.
Joshua’s favorite superhero was Spider-Man, and the family asked Cole to wear his costume for the boy’s funeral. Cole said it was an honor and a pleasure to do so.
Cole stood by Joshua’s casket for the entire service and watched as loved ones released red and blue balloons in mark the boy’s life.