Middletown teens hailed as heroes for saving 2 kids from icy pond
A group of five teenagers has been credited with rescuing two young children from an icy pond during a sledding incident last week in Monmouth County.
In a Dec. 17 post to a public Middletown Facebook group, Stephanie Irlbeck thanked the teens for their quick actions in pulling her children, ages 4 and 8, to safety after a mishap at the Beacon Hill Country Club in Atlantic Highlands.
The teens, Kieran Foley, Joseph Dietrich, Drew Scalice, Ryan Day and Tyler Armagan, are all freshmen at Middletown High School North, as first reported by Patch.
“There was zero hesitation on the boys’ part,” Irlbeck said in a phone interview with New Jersey 101.5. “There was not a thought of ‘oh my cell phone is going to get wet, my backpack is going to get lost, my new headphones are going to get ruined’ — they all just jumped in.”
Irlbeck, a lifelong Middletown resident, said they had tried to go to Holmdel Park first on Thursday, but the spot had been closed briefly by county park officials. Instead, the family followed advice for the other traditionally popular location and opted for a smaller hill upon arrival.
Irlbeck said she and her husband had seen the lower spot and that "there was some talk about is it a sand trap, is it a pond, but in the end it was so far out of the realm of what we thought was a possibility," since you had to make a hard right to veer in the direction of the area.
After the siblings' first successful run on an inflatable, two-person sled, the kids went down a second time, Irlbeck said, but wound up spinning and changing course for a smaller hill, backwards, before they flew about seven feet into the pond, as she and her husband screamed for their children to jump off the sled.
Foley and his friends happened to be on another side of the roughly 30-foot wide pond and heard the screaming, Irlbeck said. She said the teens formed a human chain, as Foley waded into the shallow water, losing his boots in the mucky bottom as he went.
Irlbeck said the teens grabbed her young son off of the sinking sled first and then her daughter, before walking with the stunned family back up the hill. She said they kept talking to the younger kids as the reality of the scary situation set in for all of them.
“It was like nobody cared about material things, which, you know, in this day and age when everyone is just recording everything instead of helping - it’s just a breath of fresh air," Irlbeck continued. "To know that there’s parents raising their kids to be fabulous human beings and there’s kids who are still amazing, they still care — it restores your faith in humanity a little bit.”
Beacon Hill has been a popular sledding destination for years, including after the first winter storm of the season, as seen in photos and video posted to social media.
Middletown Mayor Tony Perry shared a separate version of the rescue story to Twitter on Sunday and said "These five young men jumped into action without hesitation or concern for their own safety and people like that are part of what makes our town great!"
Irlbeck said in her Facebook post of the heroic teens "Not only did they stop a potentially catastrophic situation they didn’t even want anything in return."
She said only in the aftermath of the rescue did the boys admit that they had lost a few personal items in the process of helping fish the two youngsters out from the water.