MAPLEWOOD, NJ - On Sunday, Maplewood resident Gavin Kleppe, age 12, was enjoying a ride on his skateboard on Baker Street when the skateboard veered away and into the storm drain near the corner of Baker Street and Maplewood Avenue.
Luckily for Kleppe, Robbin Eisenband Cooper, who is originally from Maplewood and a graduate of Columbia High School, and now living in Short Hills, was walking by with her dog Meelan, just as the skateboard mishap occurred.
As Cooper explained on her Facebook page, "Meelan and I went for our usual long Sunday walk. Came upon a young boy, who was skateboarding across the street. Jumped off his board and it slid right into the [storm drain]. My heart broke for him, he was upset but handled it well. I couldn't even dream of leaving him there staring at the board."
Cooper called the Maplewood Police Department and explained what had happened, and as Cooper explained, "They put me in touch with the right people, the rescue fire department."
Next, Cooper got in touch with the fire department and was able to explain the location and how far down the skateboard was believed to have fallen into the storm drain.
According to Cooper, within just two minutes the Maplewood Fire Department arrived with four trucks and equipment. The firefighters had to "put their heads together, since it was 10 feet down, they had to be creative and they were."
Firefighters were successful in retrieving Kleepe's skateboard, and received heartfelt thanks from all involved, especially Kleepe, who as one Facebook commenter observed, will be telling the story of his skateboard misadventure for years to come.
Members of the fire department who came out to help included Deputy Chief Michael DeMartini, Captain Brett Derewsky, and firefighters Keith Addie, Joseph Giorgio, Michael Giligan, and Anthony Marinello.
Cooper said she knew she had to help when she saw the sad look on Kleepe's face as the skateboard disappeared out of sight. Cooper said "it was thrilling to see his face when they pulled it up and were able to grab the skateboard for him."
Cooper commended the work of the Maplewood police and fire departments for coming out to help, "I truly believe they were all fantastic. The young man was thrilled. I want to thank the police and fire departments of Maplewood for their quick response. You helped to make this boy's day a lot brighter."