66-year-old Thomas VanderWoude and his 20-year-old son Joseph, who has Down syndrome and who is the youngest of seven sons, were working in their yard in Nokesville, VA when Joseph fell through a septic tank cover that had suddenly collapsed. VanderWoude immediately jumped in after his son and managed to hold his son's head above the surface, saving his life.
By the time two men finally pulled Thomas out of the tank, he had been underwater for as long as 20 minutes. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
VanderWoude's son Joseph was in critical condition at Prince William hospital as he fought infection for several days, but recently began to improve.