VIDEO: Okanagan men brave icy waters to save drowning deer

Men from Okanagan Pile Driving, Mike V’s Automotive and BC Hydro made the rescue possible

A group of Okanagan men jumped into action this week to ensure a deer didn’t meet her demise in the icy waters of Okanagan Lake.

The deer had crossed the ice at the north end of Okanagan Lake, just north of Parkers Cove off Westside Road, when it slipped through.

The flailing deer caught the attention of two BC Hydro staff members who went to look for help.

Chris Burton was working with his crew at Okanagan Pile Driving on Feb. 26 at about 1 p.m. when the two men from BC Hydro showed up and caught their attention.

“They saw us working on the barges and flagged us down,” explained Burton. “They had spotted the deer and decided to grab us. They said it had fallen through the ice and could not get out.”

Burton and his team jumped into action taking a metal-hull boat and a barge over to rescue the small deer.

“My guys were in the boat and I was on the flat-deck barge. They came up on her and she was in the water, splashing around,” explained Burton.

“As they were getting closer she looked to be giving up and her head was slipping underneath. Mike Vasconcelos, from Mike V’s Automotive, was in the boat with Mark David and they pulled her into the boat. It was really cold water, they just put their hands in and pulled her in.”

With the deer safely in the boat, they needed to get it to shore to warm up. Burton jumped into action with Kevin Morris and used the barge to break up the ice and allow the metal boat to get close to shore.

“We were able to get the deer out and up on shore and we basically just tried to warm it up. The BC Hydro guys were able to get down to us with blankets, so we wrapped it in blankets,” said Burton.

“It was in pretty rough shape. We left it alone for a while and then we came back and checked on it. She was up and walking around like nothing had happened.”

He is glad the team from BC Hydro, Ken Findlayson and Rob Asplin, saw the deer and made the rescue possible.

“To be honest, I thought we weren’t going to get there in time. So, it was nice to see we were able to still save her.”

While it’s unclear why the deer attempted to cross the thin ice, Burton said they noticed some possible coyote tracks nearby and wonder if the deer was running from a predator.

“Either she was really thirsty and trying to get water or she was chased,” added Burton.

All in, he said it was a special moment on a Monday afternoon that made the day seem a little brighter.

“It was pretty cool to watch. Everyone pitched in and got her out of the lake. Even afterwards, Mike sat with her in the snow with the blankets and tried to warm her up. It was pretty cool,” said Burton.

“There was no hesitation, it was just let’s go get this done.

“You hear everything that is going on in the world, and then something small like that can make everyone feel pretty good you know?”

Related: B.C.’s own hammock deer garners celebrity status

Related: B.C. deer caught obeying traffic signs

Related: Vancouver Island sheep gets loose and rams children

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@carmenweld
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