Westfield mayor thanks rescuer of drowning boy

WESTFIELD – A Shore Haven resident risked his life to save a boy from the crushing waters near Barcelona Harbor in early July.

Matthew Ward saw the Pennsylva-nia family in distress while on the shoreline, and was able to save Tyler Stefan, 9, after the boy’s mother, Christen, 37, drowned after jumping back in the water to try and rescue her son.

Mayor Michael VandeVelde wanted to do something for Ward to acknowledge his bravery.

During a recent village board meeting he began by thanking Ward for risking his life to save a child.

“This is an acknowledgment of your (Ward) courageous and brave act in the face of danger,” VandeVelde said. “Without concern for your personal safety you entered the treacherous waters to rescue swimmers in distress. This selfless act saved the life of a young child. Your actions are to be commended with the highest regard and are appreciated by the people of Westfield. Thank you on behalf of the community of Westfield.”

Resident Clifford Brown was moved by this man’s selfless act and brought up an idea for the board to consider. “People jumping in the water to save lives should be honored,” he said. “For many years I have wondered why the village doesn’t have a plaque for residents who do things like that. We should have a resident of the year award for people who do something nice.”

Brown went on to press the village board to put up past and present photos of the mayors, and trustees on Eason Hall walls.

“Being the mayor or trustee is an honor,” he said. I would like to see their pictures on the walls. People walk in 20 years from now and see their dad or grandpa was mayor. It is something to be proud of – being mayor of this village.”

VandeVelde said the board would love to do this and he is looking into finding pictures of former mayors.