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Lara and Jay Wallace say their young daughter, Madison, didn't say a lot, instead, it was her actions that defined her character.
That was obvious on Friday, when she sacrificed her life for her little brother, Garrett. Also lost that day, 28-year old Lyle Eagletail, who didn't know the Wallace's. Eagletail also drowned in the waters attempting to help Garrett.
16-year old Madison Wallace was a quiet girl, diagnosed with a high functioning form of Autism. But more often than not, her heart would persevere over it all.
"For the last month or so, she reached behind the seat because I was driving and she'd pat me on the shoulder and she'd say 'I love you, dad'. Something I'll cherish as the last memory of her," remembered Madison's father, Jay Wallace.
Madison and her family made frequent trips to Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD. It was there on Friday, where Madison Wallace drowned trying to save her 6-year old brother Garrett after the Wallace's say, he fell in to the Big Sioux River.
"It was surreal. It was like I wasn't even there. I was just witnessing something, but it didn't seem real," said Madison's mother, Lara.
As members of the LDS Church, the Wallace's find solace in knowing that they will reunite with their daughter someday.
"Knowing that gives us comfort, that we'll see her again someday and that it gives us the courage to be better people, and to follow her example," said Lara Wallace.
In the meantime, Madison's life mission of doing the right thing in the face of challenges and helping the people she loved, will continue in the Wallace home.
Her art work will still fill the rooms. Blankets and hats she made will be worn. And a special line she wrote herself will be shared: "Life is like a story, and there's always a hard part."
While this may be Lara and Jay's hard part, the bravery and sacrifice inside Madison Wallace will live on.
Lara and Jay Wallace's teenage daughter, Madison, now gone after selflessly jumping in ice-filled rapids, trying to save her younger brother, Garrett, who they say, fell in the water. Garrett Wallace survived.
Something Madison's parents say, they're not sure they would have done themselves. The 8-person Wallace family moved to Vermillion, South Dakota 3 years ago from Utah.
The rest of their family drove overnight from Utah the moment they heard about the tragedy on Friday.
While the family is still in shock over losing Madison, they're grateful for not only her brave sacrifice, but 28-year old Lyle Eagle Tail's sacrifice, especially considering that, before this fatal incident, they had never met. Eagle Tail also drowned in the waters attempting to help Garrett.
"He just didn't even care about himself. There are certain people that are like that. And those people need to be honored and remembered," said Lara Wallace, Madison's mother.
Madison was a thoughtful, creative young girl, gifted at crotchet, writing, music and art.
She was diagnosed with a high-functioning form of Autism which left her introverted, quiet and physically distant.
"I don't know if she knows how much she was loved because we weren't able to communicate the way that most mothers and daughters can communicate. We did everything that we could for her, to help her," said Lara Wallace.
The Wallace's are members of the local LDS Church and say, it's their faith getting them by right now and that they believe they will be reconnected with Madison in heaven.