These Teenage Heroes Are Your Feel-Good Story of the Day
Five teens were done sledding for the day when they spotted two small children barreling backward down the hill on their sled — heading straight toward a pond that had barely frozen over! Find out how these teen heroes saved the day.
Kids in Danger
“That was fun!” Olivia Heid, eight, and her brother RJ, four, exclaimed as they climbed up the snowy hill in Middletown, New Jersey. It was the first big snowfall of 2020, and their parents, Stephanie and Rich, had taken their kids to try out their new inflatable sled on the hills near a local country club.
“We want to go again,” the kids squealed in delight and set off back down the slope. Stephanie and Rich followed on their snow saucers. Suddenly, the kids’ sled hit an icy patch and spun wildly out of control.
“No!” Stephanie cried, jumping off her saucer. Rich was off his too, but they struggled to run in the knee-deep snow and watched in terror as their kids’ sled picked up speed — careening straight for an icy pond!
Teen Heroes Step In
Just then — after three hours of sledding — high school freshmen Kieran Foley, Tyler Armagan, Ryan Day, Drew Scalice, and Joey Dietrich were heading home when they stopped to see if the pond had frozen over. Kieran gingerly placed a foot on the ice, which crackled and groaned.
Turning to leave, the friends gasped as Olivia and RJ flew past them and rocketed nearly halfway across the pond, the thin ice collapsing beneath their weight. The sled floated briefly, then began to sink into the freezing water.
Kieran didn’t hesitate. He jumped into the pond and began ice-breaking his way toward the sled. The bottom was so mucky, it sucked off one of his snow boots.
“Got you!” Drew said, jumping in and grabbing his buddy’s arm to steady him. Slowly, Kieran and Drew trudged their way to the terrified kids, who were clinging to each other.
“Let go!” Kieran urged. He struggled in frigid shoulder-deep water to lift RJ from the sinking sled.
“Give him to me,” Drew said, and turning to see Ryan, Tyler, and Joey had made a chain to the shore, he handed RJ down the line until he was safely ashore.
Olivia was bigger than her brother, but together, Kieran — who had lost his other boot— and Drew carried her to safety. A moment later, Stephanie and Rich reached them. “We went in the water but they saved us,” Olivia choked, pointing toward her heroes.
As the couple stammered emotional thanks, Rich noticed Kieran’s feet and removed his own boots. “Take these,” he insisted, and when Tyler withdrew a dead iPhone from a soggy knapsack, he offered to replace it. The teen politely declined, and the buddies headed off.
“I didn’t even get their names,” Stephanie realized. So later, she described the near tragedy on Facebook. “Whoever they are, I want to thank their parents for raising such incredible kids,” she wrote in a post.
Word spread. The teen heroes were located, and not only were their parents proud, the five pals shared a $25,000 Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award.
But even without praise or a reward, the boys say they would brave the icy waters to save Olivia and RJ again. “Snow boots and phones can be replaced — lives can’t,” says Kieran.
Adds Drew, “We’re all just glad we were there and able to help.”
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.