Young heroes help save woman

Josh Pennell
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Three friends knew what to do when someone fell through ice

Three young boys are being hailed as heroes for their quick thinking last week that led to a woman being pulled from the ice on Brazil Pond in Paradise.

Jayden Simms and Matthew McGraw, both 9, were playing with their eight-year-old friend, Andrew Vaters, on Thursday afternoon near Matthew’s house in Paradise.

Jayden’s mother, Toni Collins, had dropped her son off earlier in the day.

From left, Matthew McGrath, 9, Andrew Vaters, 8, and Jayden Simms, 9, went door-to-door until they found someone to help a woman who fell trough the ice at Brazil Pond in Paradise Thursday. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

“All I kept saying to Jayden on the way down was, ‘Don’t go near that pond. The ponds aren’t frozen yet. If you see the big boys down there you don’t go near the pond.’”

Within two hours of dropping her son off, Collins had a phone call saying that Jayden and his two friends had made attempts to get hold of someone to call 911 because a woman had fallen through the ice.


Close call

The three boys heard a woman’s cries for help and saw her a short distance from shore struggling to get out of the water after she fell through the ice. Two of the boys stayed near shore to keep an eye on the woman while the third ran to nearby houses until he found somebody to call 911.

Derek Chafe, St. John’s Regional Fire Department superintendent, was with the crew that arrived.

He says the woman was in mid-chest water and couldn’t get out. The crew had a hovercraft and the cold-water rescue team on the way, too.

“Where she was relatively close to shore, we were able to get her out before they were on the scene,” he says.

With assistance, the woman walked to the ambulance. Chafe says she was cold but otherwise seemed OK, adding that she had dressed properly for the weather and that made a big difference.

He says what the three boys did — running to get help rather than putting themselves in danger by trying to help the woman on their own — was smart.

“That was a really good move on their part.”

Jayden, Matthew and Andrew watched the rescue team work. At this point, none of their parents knew what had happened, and the three young heroes certainly didn’t march in Matthew’s house bragging about it.

“They came on up after all the ambulances and fire trucks left,” Simms says. “They came on up and said ‘We wanna come in now. It’s cold.’”

They never mentioned what happened at all and the parents only found out later. When Jayden got back to his own home, Simms asked him for more details on what happened.

“He said, ‘Mom, can we just leave it alone. We saved her life and that’s it.’”

Simms says her father — Jayden’s grandfather — died last year before Christmas. He was one of the first things she thought of when she learned of what the boys had done.

“Goose bumps came over me. If he was here he would just be so proud to see what they done,” she says.

Neither the boys nor the parents know who the woman was that was pulled from the icy water. As for Jayden, he remained a man of few words when he spoke with The Telegram.

“Happy” was his answer to how he felt about how things turned out.

Meanwhile, the three boys are receiving a lot of attention and that makes for proud parents.

“For the recognition of how young they were — that they had sense enough to do what they did — that’s a big deal. And it makes them feel proud of what they’ve done, too,” Simms says.

Organizations: Regional Fire Department

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Recent comments

  • yo mama
    December 31, 2013 - 04:46

    Refreshing to know that these boys, at that age, were actually outside playing instead of laying around the house with a tablet in their faces, good job mom's and dad's. These kids definitely deserve a little something andhave set a great example to all in their age group.

  • bf
    December 30, 2013 - 17:19

    Is this pic taken on the pond?

  • Andy Dufresne
    December 30, 2013 - 11:00

    Anybody else notice the snowmobiles racing across the very same pond when the boys were interviewed on tv? Nice to see some kids actually listen to their parents when they're told not to do something. And just WHY is the lady who fell through the ice refusing to do an interview?

  • Harold
    December 30, 2013 - 09:22

    Jayden, Matthew and Andrew... job well done guys. I hope someone takes you guys out for a special treat. It was very smart of you guys to get help rather then try to rescue the person yourselves. fine young men.

  • Don
    December 30, 2013 - 07:01

    They should receive an award for their quick actions which saved a life. They acted in a very mature manner for their age.

  • BM
    December 30, 2013 - 05:43

    When are people going to learn! STAY OFF THE ICE!!!

    • paul
      December 30, 2013 - 09:21

      its not about 'stay off the ice' its really about knowing/learning when and where its safe to go on the ice... ice covered waterways are great opportunities for recreation and travel (in back country) but you must know how to use them safely...just like we must know how to use roads and streets safely...