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Aug 13, 2012 10:42 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Brothers Recognized By Southampton Village For Saving Woman From Drowning

Aug 14, 2012 4:48 PM

Two brothers who saved their babysitter from drowning were honored by the Southampton Village Board last week.

Nicholas Otto-Bernstein, 13, and Jonathan Otto-Bernstein, 11, who live on Halsey Neck Lane, were both given plaques commemorating their heroic actions at the Village Board meeting on Thursday, August 9. Members of the Southampton Village Police Department, Southampton Fire Department and Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance were present to recognize the boys for their quick thinking.

Just after noon on Sunday, August 5, Marzena Lizures, 38, had a seizure, according to the boys, who were then under her care. Ms. Lizures, who had never before had a seizure, was standing at the side of the pool while the brothers were racing each other, and she hit her head as she fell into the deep end of the pool, they said.

“Me and my brother were both afraid she was going to die,” Nicholas said. Not having had any emergency training, the boys said they acted on instinct. After they quickly pulled her up above the water, they attempted to lift her out of the pool but could not. Nicholas got out and dialed 911, while Jonathan kept her afloat in the shallow end of the pool. Jonathan said Ms. Lizures’s lips were turning blue.

“When we heard the call come over, my heart sank to my stomach,” Southampton Village Police Sergeant Michael Medio said at the meeting on Thursday. “The last thing we want to find is someone unconscious, unresponsive and not breathing, in the pool. If not for you two, that’s what we would have found.”

After Nicholas called 911 and was directed on how to perform CPR, he said she began to breathe.

Once the fire department arrived, Ms. Lizures came to and was frightened by their presence, according to 1st Lieutenant Alfred Callahan. Ms. Lizures was in an altered mental status because she had hit her head. “While in a panicked state, the victim pushed Jonathan Otto-Bernstein under the water several times trying to get away from us,” he said in a statement this week. “Jonathan kept returning to her side in an attempt to keep the victim above water.”

Then other emergency personnel from the SVVA and the police department arrived at the scene. “She was very agitated,” said SVVA 2nd Assistant Chief Rick Fowler, who got into the pool to assist. “Those kids did a remarkable job.”

At the time, there was no one home to help the boys. Their mother, Katharina Otto-Bernstein, said she was, “ironically,” coming from a memorial service.

“The whole yard was filled with police cars and an ambulance,” she said. “When you leave your kids with an adult, you don’t think something would happen to the adult. I’m absolutely amazed at how level-headed the boys reacted, with no training.”

Nicholas said he didn’t coordinate with his brother about how to handle the situation, but that “it just happened.”

“The kids were certainly shaken up,” Mr. Fowler said. “The caller was concerned about whether they did the right thing. They acted on instinct—they didn’t know what to do.”

Emergency workers agreed on Thursday, however, that the boys did exactly the right thing. “It’s really touching to know that the kids in the community are doing as well as they are,” said Southampton Fire Department Chief Rodney “Chip” Pierson.

The boys don’t take all the credit, however. “I was especially impressed with how fast they came,” Jonathan said of the emergency responders.

Ms. Lizures, who is a family friend of the homeowners and a student at Long Island University, according to Ms. Otto-Bernstein, was taken to Southampton Hospital and later to a hospital in New York City, where she is undergoing a series of tests, but is doing just fine.

“If you guys had not been there and acted the way you did, she wouldn’t be with us today,” Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley told the boys on Thursday. “She wouldn’t be able to smile at you guys. It’s incredible what you did.”

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Great job to all but best were the boys!!
By TO BAD (24), hampton bay on Aug 13, 12 11:29 AM
Great story ! It's nice to hear some good news once in a while !
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Aug 13, 12 11:43 AM
2 members liked this comment
Congratulations, young men, on a deed well done!
By SusieD (115), Southampton on Aug 13, 12 11:45 AM
GREAT story!! a real pick me up - CoNGRATULATIONS to all 3 especailly the boys!
By david h (405), southampton on Aug 13, 12 11:54 AM
Level-headed is right - way to go!
By Wagoneer (28), Southampton on Aug 13, 12 2:54 PM
This story brought a tear to my eye and a smile to me face. I am so proud of these boys and am glad their maturity and heroism has been recognized.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Aug 13, 12 3:40 PM
Congratulations young men.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Aug 13, 12 6:45 PM
WAY TO GO BOYS!!! You deserve much more then a plaque, a key to the city, maybe? All kidding aside, Congratulations to all 3 of you and to your parents for raising such amazing young men.
By Beed54 (4), Sag Harbor on Aug 14, 12 9:19 PM