State

Icy ponds trapped them. What their Kentucky rescuers did next determined life or death.

Jackson County sheriff’s deputies and volunteer firefighters rescued a horse that was submerged in a lake.
Jackson County sheriff’s deputies and volunteer firefighters rescued a horse that was submerged in a lake. Jeff Lakes’ Facebook

A calf was lying in the middle of a frozen pond unable to move. Across the state, a horse was submerged in a frozen pond. In each case, Kentucky men stepped in to save the animals.

Earlier this month, Calloway County resident Walter Mehr found the 5-day-old calf trapped on a frozen pond at his farm. The calf was unable to leave the pond, Mehr said, because her legs would slip each time she tried to get up.

Mehr used two long pieces of wood as makeshift skis to get to the calf.

A former water skier, he manipulated a nearly frozen lasso around the calf’s neck.

“In hindsight, I could have walked out there, but who knows,” he said. “I didn’t know if I would have to wrestle the calf, which could have cracked the ice. I just wanted to be safe.”

With the other end of the rope around his waist, Mehr dragged the calf back to the bank.

Mehr said he was lucky he spotted the calf. He was unexpectedly in the area to fix frozen water troughs. He said the calf probably was trying to reach water when she went underneath fencing and toward the pond.

The calf recovered. Many people have watched Mehr’s rescue of the calf on Facebook.

“I guess they are looking for a story of people helping an animal, and that’s appealing to people I think,” he said. “It’s just something that any farmer that has cows would do, to get the calf off the ice.”

Nearly 300 miles east in Jackson County, Jeff Lakes

noticed a few horses off the side of a road acting strange Thursday, prancing back and forth.

When he saw what looked like a horse’s head above a lake, he urged his brother, Robert, to turn around their vehicle and stop.

“Sure enough, there was this horse, and it was up to about its neck in the water,” Lakes said. “All you could see was the head.”

They went up a hill near the pond and knocked on doors. They found the owner, William Truett, and began a rescue with a rope.

But as Truett tried to put a rope around the horse, he fell through the ice to his waist, Lakes said. Robert Lakes then tried to get Truett out of the freezing water, and he fell in. Jeff Lakes was able to help both men out of the water.

Jackson County sheriff’s deputies and volunteer firefighters arrived and took over from there. Straps were placed around the horse, and about 10 people, including Lakes, brought the horse out a few inches at a time.

“It was a blessing in hindsight that the horse was so cold, because she couldn’t fight,” Lakes said. “Because of that, she couldn’t try to stand. If she tried to stand, she might have fallen back in.”

After removing the horse from the pond, firemen covered the horse with blankets, Lakes said. About 20 minutes later, the horse recovered and got to its feet. When the horse was able to walk, it trotted up a hill and went to the other three horses in the barn.

Lakes had called the sheriff and let the horse’s owner know of the horse’s trouble, but he gave all the credit to the ones who were most involved in the rescue.

“All I did was what I hope anybody would, and that’s calling right away,” he said. “From that point on, it was the sheriff and the firemen. It’s a small town and we don’t have a lot of resources, but we all worked together with what we had.”

Lakes, like Mehr, has received some social media fame through his act.

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