MIAMI – Classmates of the late Cristian Burgos honored the teen hero Thursday with a message for all to see.
Students at Booker T. Washington High School in Miami gathered on the athletic field and formed the word "hero" to salute Burgos and how he died saving others.
"I don't know of a better definition of a hero than that young man," principal William Aristide said.
Burgos, a 17-year-old senior at the school, died Wednesday, two days after rescuing a 9-year-old boy and the child's mother from drowning in the waters off Virginia Key.
After saving the mother and son, Burgos was caught in the strong rip currents and had to be pulled to the shore.
Burgos was taken to the hospital in critical condition Monday and later died.
"We've always been friends, always talked, and I miss him so much," one student, Naomi Omogiate, told Local 10 News.
"He was not only my friend, he was like my brother," another student said.
A soccer player at Booker T. Washington, Burgos was remembered lovingly by his family, friends and classmates.
"I'm not surprised at all that he did that because, you know, he's that kind of person," Burgos' cousin, Katherine Zamora, said.
Administrators gave Burgos' mother a plaque Thursday, and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced a $20,000 scholarship in the teen's honor.
The fund will go toward students who demonstrate courage, determination, kindness and selflessness on behalf of others.
The pain for the teen's family is far from over. They're now trying to get Burgos' father to Miami from Nicaragua to be at his funeral, a task that requires assistance from government officials.
Carvalho said he spoke directly to U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Florida, about the matter. City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez also thanked representatives from Republican Sen. Rick Scott's office for assisting Burgos' mother with the paperwork needed to request a humanitarian visa for Burgos' father.