LBI Fraternal Order of Police Honors Heroism of Four Local Men

Construction Workers Rescued Tenant and Dog from Burning Home in Holgate
Feb 20, 2019
Photo by: Supplied

The quick and selfless action of four local construction workers – Greg Garbacki, Mike Thomas, Claud “Nobby” Dayton and Thomas J. Loughran – saved the life of Jacqueline Neiderle and her dog Maylee, who were stuck on a second floor deck as a fire spread through a home in Holgate late last month. Last week, at its annual dinner at The Engleside in Beach Haven, the Fraternal Order of Police Long Beach Island Lodge 5 honored the four men for their courage.

“As many people know, there was a tragic fire on Jan. 31 in Holgate, where Jacqueline Niederle lost all of her possessions and nearly her life when she was trapped on a second-floor deck with no stairs,” FOP 5 President Gerard W. Traynor and Secretary Tom Medel wrote in a Facebook post.

Garbacki, Thomas, Dayton and Loughran, construction workers for Pagnotta Builders, along with homeowner Steven Burkhardt, sprang into action when they became aware of the situation. The men grabbed a nearby ladder, placed it on the burning building and brought Neiderle and Maylee to safety.

“Tonight we honored the rescuers at our dinner and thanked them for being an integral part of our community,” said Traynor and Medel. “Their heroism saved a human life.”

Neiderle, a longtime tenant of the residence in Holgate, was also in attendance at the event, and the FOP “presented her with a $1,000 check from our members to help her get back on her feet,” the men noted.

They added, “Long Beach Island is a special place with special people. As police officers it is our privilege to serve our community. Three of our members (Traynor, Medel and Jim Markoski) were on scene for this fire. We saw firsthand the risk the civilians took. We are all our brother’s keeper.”

The owner of the house next door, Keith Kirsch, has set up a GoFundMe page to help Niederle, at gofundme.com/jacqueline-niederle. Lauren Moritz, at 609-969-1043, is listed as the contact for any donations other than monetary contributions.

Niederle, on Monday, said her gratitude to the four men who rescued her and Maylee is part of a much larger thank-you to all those on scene that day, as well as all the generous people who have offered her donations and kindness in the wake of the fire.

“The events of Jan. 31, 2019, play over and over in my head because it’s part of me, who I am,” she remarked. “The fact that I lost everything, but I’m still alive, means more to me than anything else in the world. The four men who raced to my aid and saved my life, these good Samaritans of LBI, put my life ahead of their own. That is not something that happens every day and everywhere, and I am always going to be sincerely grateful for their unselfish act of bravery that saved the life of my rescue Labrador retriever, Maylee, and myself.

“I have been deeply affected by the heroism of four men who put their own lives in danger for the sake of saving other lives.”  —J.K.-H.

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