Saturday, April 4, 2009

Deer-Ice Breaker Collision Narrowly Avoided

I never thought I would be writing that title. But this actually did occur in the St. Marys River just south of the cabin.

The United States Coast Guard's ice breaker Mackinaw was clearing the ice from the Rock Cut which is on the west side of Neebish Island. The ship's officers observed 4 deer attempting to cross the river. The deer must not have gotten the government notice that they were opening up the river. The channel at that point is only 238 feet wide but the Mackinaw had already made one pass through the cut.

One deer led the way and of course she feel through the broken ice into the water. She was able to get herself out, only to fall back in. This is where I'll let the Soo Evening News tell the story.

“Four deer came out to cross on the ice just ahead of us,” said Ensign David Lieberman, who was at the helm and driving the Mackinaw. “One of them moved ahead of the others and fell through the brash ice that we had cut earlier, and struggled to get out. It fell back in once, then climbed out again only to fall back through the ice.”
Lieberman said that Cmdr. Scott Smith ordered him to reduce speed, but crew members realized there was not time to avoid running down the deer just ahead of the ship’s bow.
“We slowed down, but the Mackinaw can’t stop just like that,” Liberman explained. “The Captain just wanted to give the deer a chance to get away but it was still trying to cross the channel. We couldn’t go anywhere to either side due to shallow water depth.”

On the third try, the doe made it out and began running parallel and ahead of the ship, with the three remaining deer watching from the other side of the channel.
“Up ahead we saw it try to cross back to the others and it didn’t break through at that spot, so she made it,” Lieberman said.

I can only hope that the Mackinaw crew was able to video this whole episode.

Who says nothing ever happens in the Upper Peninsula!


Cathy Clementz said...

WOW!! What a story...kind of on the sad side. thanks for sharing; otherwise I never would have known about it!

Sault Boat Watcher said...

Cathy, That is the kind of story that you couldn't make up. The Evening News writer did a good job with the story too.