A 6-year-old boy who drowned in his grandparents' half-drained pool died while saving his 3-year-old sister, family members said.

James Alton Barbour Jr. died Saturday at the home near Smithfield. His younger sister, Alona, told family members that James had pushed her to the shallow end of the pool, where she stayed in just over a foot of water.

"She just kept saying, 'He saved me, he saved me,"' said Kristal Kelley, an aunt of the children. "He's our little hero."

James apparently lost his footing and slipped below the water. Family members found the children after his mother, Tammy Barbour, noticed that the gate to the pool was open.

Officials with the Johnston County Sheriff's Department said they don't expect to file charges in the case.