David Tillberg, Carteret, and Yousef Khela, East Brunswick, each 13, died inside 24 hours of one another as a consequence of falling by the ice of municipal ponds.


Bridgewater Courier Information

CARTERET – Combating again tears, Nicole Alexich wanted only one phrase to explain her nephew, David Tillberg, who died early Thursday after falling through the ice of Carteret Pond Wednesday night.

“He was good,” she mentioned. “It is so tragic.”


“His smile, that is the factor I am unable to recover from, like by no means with the ability to see his smile once more. His smile was like good, it might gentle up all the things,” she mentioned. “He was so good.”

Alexich mentioned she cropped herself out of the image of David she posted on a GoFundMe web page known as Remembering David Tillberg as a result of she did not need to take away from him. The fund drive is trying to elevate $20,000 for David’s funeral bills.

“I wished his face to be proper there and that was simply probably the most good smile, too,” she mentioned, including she’s very near her sister’s kids. “Her youngsters are like my youngsters. They’re like all the things to me.”

She mentioned David, 15, was child. 


“He was such child, like good. Did not mess up at school. He simply did not do something improper,” she mentioned whereas crying.

“It is actually unhappy as a result of to listen to my sister inform what occur, David was at all times shy and stored to himself and performed on his pc and his video games, and this 12 months he actually began to come back out of his shell,” Alexich mentioned.

Alexich mentioned David’s mom, Natalie Santiago, is an excellent mom. She mentioned her sister would not let her youngsters exit with out figuring out who they’re going with and assembly the moms of her youngsters’ associates.

“She’s actual protecting” she mentioned.


“My sister has six youngsters; nicely, minus one, proper? And her husband and two canine, so she has an enormous household,” Alexich, of Edgewater mentioned. 

READ: ‘The funniest kid you’d meet’: East Brunswick teen mourned after drowning

She mentioned David is her sister’s oldest son. The household are long-time Carteret residents, Alexich mentioned. 


She mentioned Wednesday was one of many first instances David was glad as a result of he had began making associates and popping out of his shell.

“And he requested if he might go skateboarding. And usually she (Santiago) would say, ‘no,’ as a result of she’s protecting, and this time she mentioned, ‘okay.’ And children being youngsters, they went on the ice and I do not know why they’d try this. However I assume youngsters try this, proper?” she mentioned.

Carteret Police Capt. Michael Dammann mentioned warning indicators to keep away from the ice are posted on the park.

“There is no such thing as a skating on the pond,” Dammann mentioned in an e-mail, including no bodily accidents had been reported among the many emergency personnel who responded.

Alexich mentioned her sister was selecting up certainly one of her daughters when she noticed an ambulance go by.


“And he or she simply had a nasty feeling. She simply knew one thing was improper,” she mentioned.

Alexich mentioned she was together with her sister all evening on the hospital earlier than driving her house. Police escorted the household to College Hospital in Newark the place David was taken after being pulled from the pond at Carteret Park where he had been in the water for less than an hour.

“It was tough after they pulled him out, and so they would not inform her something, and the police took her to the hospital and I adopted her. We sat there all evening and there was no heartbeat in any respect, no motion. They tried for hours, hours and hours and it needed to be about eight hours and so they would not cease. They tried all the things,” Alexich mentioned.

She mentioned docs labored with David’s blood, and warmed his physique, however nothing labored. She mentioned docs had hoped the chilly water and hypothermia, as soon as warmed, would assist in his revival.

“My sister is having a tough time however after I dropped her off this morning, I simply wished to present her some peace as a result of she needed to inform the opposite youngsters. It is arduous you need to be sturdy in your different youngsters,” mentioned Alexich, who deliberate to return to see her sister later within the day. “She’s simply beside herself.”


“It is such a foolish tragedy to occur, you realize? Children and lakes, you realize?” mentioned Alexich, conscious that Yousef Khela, 13, of East Brunswick had died Wednesday afternoon after falling by the ice of a pond close to that township’s municipal complicated.


READ: Middlesex High School student fatally struck by NJ Transit train

“It is so horrible, are you able to even think about all these youngsters? It is terrible,” mentioned Alexich, who’d additionally seen studies concerning the lady and her grandmother who died in Wednesday’s Edison home hearth.

“Regardless of the heroic efforts of legislation enforcement and emergency personnel who responded to the scenes of those tragic incidents, three younger individuals and an grownup perished yesterday in Middlesex County. In one of many incidents a “human chain” was utilized in an effort to forestall the lack of human life. Our condolences to the household and associates of those 4 people and the communities  of Carteret, Edison and East Brunswick who’re contending with these inexplicable losses,” Performing Middlesex County Prosecutor Christopher L.C. Kuberiet mentioned in a launch. 


Alexich mentioned one other sister simply retains interested by how David felt after falling by the ice and never with the ability to escape.


“That is simply the worst half, too,” she mentioned.

The Carteret Hearth Division mentioned in a launch that one other teen additionally fell by the ice on the pond however was in a position to rescue himself.

She mentioned the medical expert plans to do an post-mortem to find out David’s explanation for loss of life.

Alexich mentioned David appreciated constructing issues and was interested by turning into an engineer, however he additionally appreciated to sing.


“I do not know what else to say besides he was good,” she mentioned.

Carteret Superintendent of Faculties Rosa Diaz despatched a letter Thursday to the varsity group informing of David’s loss of life.

“There aren’t any phrases to explain the nice unhappiness our college students and employees are feeling proper now. Please be assured we are going to present each useful resource doable to assist all these affected,” Diaz wrote.

She mentioned the district’s emergency response plan, which provides quite a lot of assist, together with grief counselors, to employees and college students has been applied.


“As Ramblers we are going to depend on our resilience as we work collectively to deal with this horrible tragedy,” Diaz wrote. “Please proceed to maintain David’s household in your ideas and prayers.”

Funeral preparations for David, who was an eight-grader at Carteret Center Faculty, have but to be introduced.

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Suzanne Russell is a breaking information reporter for protecting crime, courts and different mayhem. To get limitless entry, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.


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