Batman was in South Carolina Thursday, but the hero being honored was the 8-year-old boy who tried to rescue his friend from a fatal dog attack.
John Buckland, aka Batman, took time to recognize Caleb Dillon, who was injured when he tried to fight off three dogs and save his friend Korbin Williams.
Buckland, of Huntington, W.V., was dressed as Batman when he presented Dillon with an assortment of gifts before taking him on a ride in his authentic looking Batmobile.
Williams, 8 was attacked by three dogs Dec. 1 and later died from the injuries.
After honoring Dillon, Buckland was scheduled to drive the boy in the Batmobile to attend Williams funeral.
Before the ride, Buckland presented the boy with gifts, including an autographed Batman baseball hat, DVDs, a coloring book and autographed posters to give out to kids having a hard time.
Buckland also presented Dillon with a Batman mask. It was intended to be a Christmas gift for Williams from his mother, Bianca Thomas, but she wanted Dillon to wear it to the funeral.
Buckland fought off tears as he presented the mask to Dillon.
“For risking your life to save others, we honor you,” Buckland said. “When we go through tough things in life … really bad things that happen can also be really great things when people like Caleb come along.
“I’m grateful for kids like Caleb.”
Williams and Dillon were walking near Williams’ Gaffney home around 3:45 p.m. Friday when three dogs attacked them. Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said Dillon was bitten once on the leg, but the dogs kept attacking Williams, biting him all over his body.
“While the dogs were still attacking (Williams), his friend ran to his nearby home for help,” Fowler said. “The friend’s mother and neighbor rushed to Korbin and called 911.”
Fowler said Williams was pronounced dead at the scene, dying from blood loss.
“It’s no small thing that you did,” Buckland told Dillon. “The best way you can honor your buddy Korbin is to live your life to the fullest. That is what being a hero is all about.”
This isn’t the first funeral for a South Carolina boy that Buckland has attended as Batman. He spoke at the superhero-themed funeral service for Jacob Hall in 2016. Hall, a first grader died from injuries suffered when he was wounded in a shootingat Townville Elementary. Another student and a teacher were also shot and survived.
Hall’s tiny body was dressed in a Batman costume for his wake, where hundreds of mourners dressed as superheroes in his honor.
Williams’ favorite superhero was Batman, according to his obituary. Word of that reached Buckland.
“Thursday will be a heavy but hope filled trip to South Carolina,” Buckland wrote in a Facebook post. “We will honor Korbin as he is laid to rest.”
On the Heroes 4 Higher website, Buckland says he dons the Caped Crusader’s costume “to prepare our youth for the challenges faced in our schools and community.”
According to the website, Buckland is a career firefighter, including 2 years of service in Iraq as a Department of Defense Firefighter from 2009-11.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.