He got stuck with big bills for saving a life in Belmar — how you can help
BELMAR — The Good Samaritan who wound up with a huge medical bill for helping to rescue a swimmer from the rough surf in September is getting some help in the form of a GoFundMe page.
Kristian Falkenstein helped a swimmer out of the water that had been churned up by Hurricane Maria despite the beach being closed on Saturday, Sept. 23. The Coast Guard sent a boat to help pull everyone out of the water, including a Belmar police officer and two lifeguards.
There were 35 rescues on Belmar beaches alone over that weekend, according to a tweet by Mayor Matt Doherty, who closed his borough’s beaches to swimmers.
Falkenstein, of Newtown, Pa., said paramedics convinced him to be checked out at a hospital. A frequent visitor to Belmar in the summer, he said hospital staff told him that if he declined care, he would not be able to use his insurance for what had been done and would "get stuck with the whole bill."
Even with a $750 deductible and a $500 payment for the emergency room, he has $1,500 in medical bills.
Chaka Freeman of Spotswood, a veteran first responder, told New Jersey 101.5 he posted a GoFundMe page to help pay Falkenstein's bills because he had similar experiences in his 19 years on the job. .
Falkenstein told NJ.com that Jersey Shore University Medical Center waived the co-pays on the bill.
Doherty said state law prohibits the borough from paying the bill for Falkenstein.
"The state constitution does not allow local governments to donate money," the mayor said in a statement.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.