Heroic teens rescue elderly walker from stream

By Cherie Taylor of the Daily Post -
Ngongotaha youth Ryan Heremaia, 16, and friend Pia Pene pulled elderly man Ron Rolfe out of the Ngongotaha stream after he accidentally slipped in. Photo / The Daily Post
Ngongotaha youth Ryan Heremaia, 16, and friend Pia Pene pulled elderly man Ron Rolfe out of the Ngongotaha stream after he accidentally slipped in. Photo / The Daily Post

Getting into mischief is something Rotorua teen Ryan Heremaia is familiar with but he isn't averse to jumping in when someone needs help.

The 16-year-old reluctant hero is one of a group of youths who went to the aid of an elderly man who fell into the Ngongotaha stream and ended up neck-deep in water while out walking his dog.

Ron Rolfe, 74, was walking his dog next to a stream in Rotorua just two days after leaving hospital following a stroke when the bank gave way and he slid about 3m down a bank and into the water.

"It just collapsed. I was stuck in the mud. I couldn't move. It happened so quickly," he said of the incident, which happened last month.

Ryan, a CNI forestry worker, said he was just "chilling" with his mate Pia Pene near a walkbridge when he noticed Mr Rolfe.

"We were watching this old fellow standing there and the next minute he just fell in," he said.

Ryan and Pia went to his aid.

"He was screaming out for help," he said.

Other younger children were milling around but were unable to help Mr Rolfe.

Ryan said it was not easy to pull the stuck man out.

"I jumped down and hauled him out. First I tried to pull him out by his hand but he was stuck, so I put my arms under his arms and still couldn't get him out. I just pulled real hard and got him on to my shoulder and pushed him up the bank," he said.

He admitted he got into a bit of trouble from time to time, fighting with other youths. But Ryan said he would jump to help any older person needing help.

"We need to be there for our old people. They have paved the way for us," he said.

Mr Rolfe's wife Nancy said she was proud of the youngsters. She believed they deserved to be rewarded for helping her husband, who had only been out of hospital for two days after suffering a stroke when he fell into the stream.

"They deserve something like a whole day out at Rotorua's attractions because these kids were prepared to help and not harm, which is great. They need to be rewarded," she said.

Mr Rolfe is currently unwell but wanted to thank the youths.

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