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Atkinson 14-year-old saves his friend from drowning at Pelham pond

Union Leader Correspondent

July 25. 2018 9:01AM
Ethan Gerry, left, and Matthew Brooks have been friends since first grade. (Courtesy)

PELHAM — While at an 8th-grade graduation party at his grandparents’ house at Little Island Pond on Saturday, 14-year-old Ethan Gerry realized something was wrong.

The Atkinson boy watched as his longtime friend, Matthew Brooks, 14, of Danville, collapsed and fell into the water while the two were playing around on a foam lily pad.

Gerry said he had just learned the symptoms of a seizure this past school year, so he knew instantly what was happening.

“I kinda knew Matt,” Gerry said. “He’s not someone who would joke about something like that.”

Gerry immediately sprang into action, calling to the adults and diving in after his friend.

“I just yelled ‘Matt! Help! Seizure!’” he said.

Brooks was under water for 10 to 15 seconds before Gerry found him at the bottom of the pond, lifted him up and held his friend’s head above the water until adults responded.

“I always tell them, if anything happens, put their head above the water,” said Maureen Gerry, Ethan’s mom and a nurse.

Brooks’ mom, Tiffany Paolino, was not at the party at the time. She was called around noon Saturday and helped provide information to first responders.

At that point, she didn’t know what Gerry did to help her son.

“When stuff like that’s going on, you’re not really processing,” Paolino said.

Later, after learning what Gerry did, she expressed her gratitude.

“I was just really thankful that he knew enough to do that,” Paolino said. “He put his friend’s life first.”

Paolino said her son was taken to Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, where he had an EKG, CAT scans and blood tests. She said he doesn’t have a known seizure disorder but he experienced a seizure when he was 3, during a fever.

They’re going to follow up with a pediatric neurologist.

Paolino said the boys have been close friends since first grade. They’ll be entering ninth grade together at Timberlane Regional High School in the fall.

Maureen Gerry said the fire department plans to honor Ethan for saving Brooks on Friday at noon at the fire station with an award and a pizza party.

“I’m really proud of him,” she said. “He maintained his composure, which is crazy at that age.”

Accidents NH People Pelham Atkinson Danville

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