Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Firefighter saved from icy lake

Dog he tried to rescue not so lucky

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MORROW — A firefighter who tried desperately to save a family's dog had to be rescued Monday after he broke through the ice and slipped into the frigid waters of Todd's Fork.

        Fire Capt. Bruce Grambley was treated for mild hypothermia at Bethesda Warren County Medical Center and released.

        Cleo, a 5-year-old Australian shepherd, wasn't as fortunate.

        In the water for about 90 minutes, she died while her owner, Dave Evers, attempted to warm her inside his home on Morrow-Blackhawk Road.

        Mr. Evers said he found Cleo in the water about 5:30 a.m. after he heard the dog barking frantically.

        Mr. Evers said he made a failed attempt to rescue the dog before firefighters arrived. But he fell into the creek while using a ladder to form a bridge from the bank to the ice. Meanwhile, his 18-year-old daughter called 911 for help.

        Capt. Grambley was no stranger to the Everses when he arrived. The six-year fire veteran, who had just landed a promotion, had bonded with the family when he helped on their farm before joining the Morrow department. He could not be reached Monday for comment.

        Mr. Evers said he tried to discourage Capt. Grambley from going out on the thin ice, fearing it would give way under his weight. But the firefighter went anyway, using a kayak, then stepping out onto the ice when the kayak got stuck in it. That's when he fell through.

        Other firefighters pulled Capt. Grambley to safety by a rope that was already tied around his waist, Fire Chief Fred LaFollette said.

        Then, they went back for Cleo.

        “She was pretty weak. She was still alive when we pulled her out. She was fighting for her life,” Mr. Evers said, pausing to regain his composure.

        He said he took Cleo in as a puppy — essentially saving her life — when he bought her sister, Patches, from a breeder. The breeder had talked of euthanizing Cleo because she was deaf.

        But Mr. Evers said he persuaded the breeder to let him have Cleo as a “buddy” for Patches.

        As he buried Cleo on his property Monday, Mr. Evers was filled with grief as he watched Patches try to pull away the dirt from Cleo's grave.

        “She's in mourning. She didn't want her to go,” Mr. Evers said. “We've all got to go. It just shouldn't be like this.”


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