A 7-year-old boy climbed on top of the greenhouse at Van Vleck House and Gardens and fell through the glass, sustaining injuries on Tuesday, July 9, police said.
PHOTO BY ADAM ANIK

BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
winters@montclairlocal.news

A man from Denmark, who sprung into action after a 7-year-old boy climbed on top of the greenhouse at Van Vleck House and Gardens and fell through the glass last week, has been awarded the Life Saving Award by the Montclair Police Department.

The 7-year-old, a Nutley resident, was visiting the gardens at around 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9, when he apparently went off the path and began to climb the greenhouse, police said. 

The boy fell through three panes of glass and fell about six feet, said Van Vleck officials.

Morten Rose Madsen, visiting the gardens from Denmark, rushed to help the boy, got him out of the greenhouse, gave him first aid and asked people to call an ambulance.

Morten Rose Madsen, visiting the gardens from Denmark, rushed to help the boy, got him out of the greenhouse, gave him first aid and asked people to call an ambulance. He shown in the center being honored by the Montclair Police for his efforts.
COURTESY MPD

“I heard a cry and saw the boy lying helpless in the greenhouse with a closed door,” he said. “I kicked up the door and saw the condition of the boy. I took my T-shirt off and tightened it around the bleeding to stop it. A girl called 911.”

In a small ceremony at the police station on Friday, July 12, the MPD and the Montclair Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local #53 recognized Madsen’s efforts as a civilian for his “outstanding efforts in service to the community.” 

“Mr. Madsen’s quick response, recognition of the severity of the medical emergency, immediate actions and effective first aid contributed to the possible saving of the juvenile’s life,” the commendation reads. “A failure to act or action after delay could have led to a tragic outcome. Therefore, Mr. Madsen’s actions qualify him for this Life Saving Award and bestows upon him the Department’s and Local’s appreciation.”

Following the incident, the juvenile was transported by medical personnel to a nearby hospital for treatment, police said. Details on the boy’s condition have not been provided. Police only said that he “sustained two lacerations to his lower body.”

The man from Denmark also sustained a cut to his heel. 

Van Vleck executive director Charles Fischer said they were very concerned with the health of the boy following the accident, and he urged parents to supervise children when visiting the gardens.

“We are not a park,” Fischer said. “We are a house and arboretum that was once someone’s home. People need to stay on the paths for their own safety.”

The greenhouse is located behind the visitor and education centers, and near a butterfly garden, but is roped off with a cable. The greenhouse was built in 1920 and much of the original glass remains. It is still used today to grow vegetation by the gardeners who maintain the Van Vleck arboretum, Fischer said. 

The main house on the Van Vleck grounds was designed and built in 1916 by Joseph Van Vleck, Jr. His son, Howard Van Vleck, followed in his father’s footsteps and pursued a degree in architecture and a passion in the arts and horticulture. 

In 1993, the heirs of Howard Van Vleck placed the property in the hands of The Montclair Foundation and later became a not-for-profit arboretum.