A Virginia father is being hailed a hero after he dove into his septic tank to save his disabled son's life — but tragically lost his own.

Thomas Van Derwoude, 66, went in after his 20-year-old son to rescue him when he fell into the tank at the family's home in Nokesville, Va., FOX affiliate WTTG-TV reported.

When emergency officials arrived on the scene, they pulled both father and son out.

The younger Van Derwoude survived and was taken to the hospital.

But his dad — a devout Catholic, a military and commercial pilot and a local basketball coach — was pronounced dead.

Grieving friends and family said it didn't surprise them that such a selfless act claimed Van Derwoude's life.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.