PHOTOS: Deer Rescued After Falling Through Frozen Pennsylvania Lake
(Photo by Wildpix645 via Getty Images)

On Saturday afternoon, the Nanty Glo Fire Department in Western Pennsylvania received an unusual call. Three local residents were in a life-threatening situation, having fallen through the surface of a frozen lake at Duman Dam Park. The locals weren’t human, however, they were deer – two does and a young buck.

Unwilling to let any member of their community, regardless of species, suffer without assistance, the Nanty Glo fire crew departed for the park, calling a water rescue team and several other stations to help with the irregular mission.

Donning their protective ice suits, multiple crew members plunged into the frigid water and waded toward the stranded woodland creatures while another group used a small boat and hand tools to break up the ice so the deer could be pulled to shore.

Working together, the band of rescue teams successfully removed all three deer from the water. The mission, however, was far from over. Sadly, the deer had been stranded in the bitterly cold lake for hours before the incident was reported. As such, all three were suffering from the effects of hypothermia.

After reaching the shore, one of the deer was strong enough to run off, disappearing into the surrounding forest. The other two were in far worse condition, fatigued and half frozen from their afternoon beneath the ice.

Luckily, one of the stations had brought towels and blankets in case of such an event. Carefully wrapping the deer in the blankets, crew members toweled them dry, staying with the animals until they were warm and well enough to follow their companion into the woods.

Rescuers Describe Challenge of Removing Three Deer From Frozen Lake

Typically, by this time of year, the lakes of Pennsylvania are more than solid enough to support the weight of passing deer. This year, however, the weather hasn’t been cold enough to produce a thick sheet of ice, leaving the unwitting deer vulnerable to an unexpected polar plunge.

“In this case, we haven’t had the coldest weather so the ice is very very thin,” Isaac Hessler, a firefighter at Nanty Glo Fire Department and a member of the Cambria County Rescue Team, told WJAC. “That made it definitely challenging for us to be able to get onto the ice. It ended up being a mix of swimming and trying to get onto the ice.”

Among the bystanders who witnessed the incident was photographer Amy Edwards, who snapped several heartwarming photos of the rescue. A lover of animals, it was a difficult scene for Edwards to behold, despite being a successful rescue mission.

“It was hard to watch because they were struggling quite a bit,” she said. “It was honestly something I hope to never see again. At the same time to have the positive outcome that was there, that was great.”

Following the rescue mission, Nanty Glo Fire Department enlisted the help of the game commission, who soon arrived to further assess the fatigued deer. They then issued a warning to other residents, advising them to stay away from frozen lakes in the area.

“Stay away from water like that especially when it’s cold like this,” said Fire Chief Shank. “It doesn’t take very long to get hypothermia in that water. Even when it feels warm outside hypothermia can set in pretty quickly.”

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