San Clemente man gets national acclaim after rescuing 7 boys from icy lake in New York

Bennett Jonas, a San Clemente High School graduate gaining national acclaim after helping pull seven boys from an icy pond in Central Park earlier this week, appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday to share his experience with hosts Robin Roberts and Michael Strahan.

“Only in New York would two male models be standing by for the rescue,” quipped former NFL star Strahan, introducing Jonas, 23, and fellow male model Ethan Turnbull, 24, of Sydney, Australia.

The two men, who have appeared in ads for Calvin Klein Underwear and Versace, were skateboarding in Central Park Monday at 6 p.m. when seven boys fell into the icy pond. Jonas described how instincts he developed from being a longtime waterman and former junior lifeguard in San Clemente kicked in for the rescue.

“I learned a long time ago to never give your body to someone drowning,” he said in the “Good Morning America” interview.

He described how he made that mistake with the first two boys he rescued and how they tried to get on top of him to get out of the water. “They’re trying to get out and will do anything to get on top of you,” he said.

Jonas managed to get control of the situation and hand the two boys, one a 10-year-old, to Turnbull, who pulled them to safety.

Jonas and Turnbull grabbed a nearby ladder to help rescue three more boys out of the pond. Jonas then went in one more time for two other boys who already had lost consciousness, he said.

“It was all a matter of ‘right place at the right time’ for the two of us,” Turnbull told the hosts of the morning show.

Strahan pointed out that the fact Jonas and Turnbull are models didn’t escape his GMA staff. He also called the two “model citizens,” a description Jonas seemed to prefer.

Jonas, who said he is in New York pursuing an acting career, is the son of Jeffrey Jonas, a “GQ” model in the 1990s.

Contact the writer: 714-796-2254 or eritchie@scng.com

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