What was supposed to be a fun night out with the family for Kristin & Justin Mergenthaler and their three hockey-loving boys in Utica, took a frightening turn out of nowhere.

It was a Saturday night and the Utica University Pioneers were hosting the University of New England Nor'easters for the NCAA Division III Men's Hockey Quarterfinals. The highly anticipated game filled most seats in the Adirondack Bank Center, leaving many people on the edge of their seats their entire game.

The score was 1-3, favoring UNE in the 3rd period. That was when a commotion picked up in the upper stands behind the players. People standing up, calling over staff, and running in to help one little boy. That would be Robert Mergenthaler.

Credit - Kristin Mergenthaler
Credit - Kristin Mergenthaler

What Happened?

Robert is just a 3-year-old, with brothers who are each 4 and 5-years-old. Kristin and Justin originally thought Robert was choking, but after rushing him to the Emergency Room they found he had a febrile seizure.

He currently has Human Metapneumovirus, which is a seasonal disease that impacts the upper respiratory system. Not only that, but it made his body temperature rise quickly during the game, causing his body to seize. This was something the family was unaware of until later.

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Thanks to quick actions by fans, staff, and local police officers, they were able to secure Robert and get him out of the arena safely. The family was eventually sent to Syracuse were they received their final diagnosis.

Credit - Kristin Mergenthaler
Credit - Kristin Mergenthaler

Extremely Grateful

The entire Mergenthaler family wants to express their deepest love and appreciation for everyone who helped Robert. What might have looked like a big crowd doing nothing was the exact opposite.

We are very lucky and grateful to the fans that stepped up and helped when we couldn't... The EMT's and Aud staff that stayed calm... Doctors and Nurses that grabbed our 2 other boys and got them away and safely home.

According to his mother Kristin, he could've caught the virus and had this incident anywhere. They are a very active family, even going to an open skate last Friday.

Credit - Utica University
Credit - Utica University

With how many people were at the game on Saturday, it was amazing to see everyone who stepped in to help. It was a scary time for the family, but they are nothing but grateful for everyone's support.

I just want everyone to know how truly grateful we are for the help and that he's okay! We really hope we never experience anything like it ever again.

And though Utica lost in overtime... as someone who was there, you could feel the sense of hope and prayer all throughout the crowd for Robert. And deep down, I also believe it inspired Utica score 3 back-to-back goals in the 3rd, sending the game into overtime.

Whether they knew about little Robert or not, there was some real magic in the air.

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