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Tuesday, January 2, 2001

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Noah Oleyer, right, saved Eola Liwai Manoa from drowning
in a swimming pool. Both boys are 4 years old.

saves friend, 4,
from drowning

Noah Oleyer jumped into the water
to grab his non-swimmer buddy,
who had slipped into the pool

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Normally, lifeguards are commended for saving swimmers in distress. But, in this case, 4-year-old Noah Oleyer got the honors from family and friends after rescuing his buddy.

Noah and his friend, 4-year-old Eola Liwai Manoa, were playing with water floaters near a residential pool while attending a barbecue in Hawaii Loa Ridge. One of the floaters landed in the pool and as Liwai reached for it, he slipped into the pool's deep end.

Without hesitation, Noah dove in.

"He was in the deep water and I tried to save him," said Noah.

Liwai's mother, Bernie, said she was relieved that Noah was nearby to save her son's life. Bernie had turned her head away from the children for a split-second.

As soon as she turned around, the boys were in the water, she said.

"If it wasn't for Noah, Liwai would've gone down," said Bernie, 40. "He knew exactly what to do."

"He grabbed my shoulders," said Noah, who is about 5 inches taller than Liwai. Noah tried to keep Liwai's head above the water while he swam near the steps of the pool.

Bernie rushed to pull the boys out of the pool.

Liwai was in a state of panic, but not hurt, she said.

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
For these two families, it was a merry Christmas indeed. From
left are Barbie and Ron Oleyer with children Noel, 6, Brittney,
10, and Noah; and Stan and Bernie Manoa's family, Noelle,
15, Eola Liwai, sitting on dad, and Kamele, 6, sitting on mom.

"He's unreal," Liwai's father, Stan, said in praising Noah. "Luckily, nothing wen' happen."

Barbie and Ron Oleyer, Noah's parents, taught their son to swim when he was 3 years old. "At first he was kinda scared," said Ron, 38, but eventually Noah became familiar with the water.

"Now, he always wants to go snorkeling and swimming with me."

The whole Oleyer family, residents of Ewa, enjoys water sports such as surfing, snorkeling, jet skiing and fishing, often spending weekends at the beach. "We love the water," said Barbie, 35.

After what happened to Liwai, Bernie said she plans on teaching her son how to swim.

Dr. Jan Prins, director of Swim Hawaii, said, "The more they get familiar with water, the faster they learn how to swim.

"Swimming is a learned skill," he said. "There has to be formal instruction."

Also, it's easier to teach children how to swim while they're in the learning stages, Prins said. He recommends children be taught to swim when they are 3 to 4 years old.

Ron, who hadn't attended the November barbecue, heard from his wife how their son saved Liwai. "I was so proud of him," he said.

The boys have known each other since they were babies, said Barbie. Noah attends preschool at Kamaaina Kids in Ewa, while Liwai attends the Early Education Center in Honolulu.

When Ron asked Noah what he wants to be when he grows up, he said an astronaut or someone who works in the water.

"Who knows, he'll be saving lives like a paramedic or a doctor," said Bernie.

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