Community Life

Clark Teens Receive Bravery Award after Saving Friend’s Life

Thomas Bizacko, Nick Serpe, and Nick Shipiro received the Mayor’s Certificate of Bravery for saving the life of their friend and teammate Sebastian Iakouvitch. Credits: Kristen Busch
Michelle Iakouvitch expressed her gratitude to the boys for saving her son's life after a drowning incident. Credits: Kristen Busch
Thomas Bizacko, Nick Serpe, and Nick Shipiro received the Mayor’s Certificate of Bravery for saving the life of their friend and teammate Sebastian Iakouvitch. Credits: Kristen Busch
Sebastian Iakouvitch helps Mayor Bonaccorso present certificates of bravery to his friends for saving his life. Credits: Kristen Busch
Friends, family, and teammates were in attendance for the presentation. Credits: Kristen Busch

CLARK, NJ – Mayor Sal Bonaccorso and the Clark Town Council presented the Mayor’s Certificate of Bravery to teens Thomas Bizacko, Nick Serpe, and Nick Shipiro for saving the life of their friend and teammate Sebastian Iakouvitch.

“On July 5th, I received that dreaded phone call no parent would want to get,” said Iakouvitch’s mother, Michelle Iakouvitch.  “I never thought it would be a swimming incident, drowning, because I prided myself in teaching Sebastian to swim at 13 months to be able to save himself.  He is an excellent swimmer.”

In an email to the Mayor and Council, Iakouvitch’s mother explained that her son was submerged under water for over four minutes. Iakouvitch’s friends noticed that he was struggling in the pool and jumped into action.  Serpe went into the deep end of the pool to begin pulling Iakouvitch out with the help of Shipiro and Bizacko.

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Her email went on to explain the Iakouvitch was taken to JFK Hospital where he was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia and pulmonary edema.  Iakouvitch was able to walk out of the hospital on his own.

“An estimated 5,000 children are hospitalized and 15% die in the hospital.  As many as 20% of them suffer from permanent neurological disability,” said Iakouvitch’s mother.  “As I read you the statistics I give you an idea of how things could have been so different and I want to thank once again Nick Shipiro, Nick Serpe, and Thomas Bizacko for saving my son’s life.”

“It’s an honor for me to recognize these young men for saving someone’s life and being such great citizens,” said Bonaccorso.  “We thank you on behalf of myself and the township council.”

Just this spring, Iakouvitch and his mother lost everything they owned in a Sunday morning fire.  Friends and community jumped to create a GoFundMe page to help the family get back on their feet.

“Whenever people are in need, that’s when this town really rises to the occasion,” said Bonaccorso.  “It’s so amazing and so incredible.”

“I will forever be grateful to those boys, JFK Hospital’s doctors and staff, and the first responders,” said Iakouvitch’s mother.


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