Saved from watery grave

A young deer got a new lease on life thanks to some nearby workers.

The animal fell through the ice into Okanagan Lake by Westside Road 15 minutes from Highway 97 Wednesday and was rescued by a handful of men who came together to the stricken youngling.

"We just happened to look off to the side, and my partner Rob Asplin saw the head of a deer sticking out of the water," said Ken Finlayson, a security and investigations advisor with BC Hydro who was on a job with Asplin, a contractor with Western Pacific Enterprises. "We went back and had a look through the binoculars – obviously it was having a lot of difficulty in the water.

"We had just passed a barge or dredge with a couple guys on it a few minutes earlier. So we drove back and made our way through the snow to the water's edge and started waving at them. They agreed to help, and two of them took off right away in a boat, and the other came in a separate boat behind them shortly after."

Workers from Okanagan Pile Driving and Mike V's Automotive used two boats to rescue the freezing deer.

Teamwork played a key role in saving the deer with one group of rescuers using an aluminum boat to get the deer out of the water and another group using a heavier pontoon barge to carve a channel through the ice to the shore.

As they got closer to shore, the deer was placed back in the water in the hope it could swim to shore and safety, but it soon became obvious the deer was too weak so Kevin Morris, jumped off the boat and hauled the stricken deer out of the water.

"She was so cold," recalled Chris Burton of Okanagan Pile Driving. "Even after we got her to shore, we were worried that she wasn’t going to make it."

That's where the BC Hydro crew returned to the rescue effort with Finlayson and Asplin grabbing some BC Hydro blankets from the truck and wrapping them around the deer to warm it up.

After a while, the deer warmed up, regained some strength and took off into the forest.

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