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Frozen river scramble

Members of Columbia Basin Dive Rescue respond Monday to a report of a deer stranded on the partially frozen Yakima River in Richland. The animal was able to make it safely off the ice before divers reached it.
Members of Columbia Basin Dive Rescue respond Monday to a report of a deer stranded on the partially frozen Yakima River in Richland. The animal was able to make it safely off the ice before divers reached it. Courtesy Columbia Basin Dive Rescue

Divers with Columbia Basin Dive Rescue crawled across huge chunks of ice in the Yakima River on Monday to help a stranded deer.

The volunteer organization responded about 9 a.m. at the request of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, after a caller told emergency dispatchers a deer was caught in the icy river.

Scott Ruppelius, Dive Rescue’s spokesman, said six of them responded to the Richland shoreline near the train bridge and Highway 240.

Brock Long and Katsiaryna Kniahnitskaya put on dry suits and life jackets and were harnessed to others on the bank while they made their water toward the middle of the river through ice and open water.

The river temperature was 36 degrees.

Ruppelius said they think the doe may have climbed onto a little ice island for a break as it crossed the frozen water.

The divers were getting close when the wobbly deer stood up and scrambled across to safety on the other side, he said. It fell through the ice a few times on its way.

The rescue attempt lasted a little more than an hour.

Ruppelius said Dive Rescue normally does not respond for animals, but did in this case to avoid further 911 calls about something on the ice.

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