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Published: Sunday, 5/11/2008

Boater rescue call turns just ducky for family of fowl


A Toledo fire water-rescue crew responded yesterday afternoon to Promenade Park downtown with lights flashing and sirens blaring, expecting to pull an unlucky boater out of the Maumee River.

Instead, the Station 5 crew wound up reuniting a frantic mother duck with her ducklings. The latter nearly plunged to their deaths by slipping through holes in a sewer grate.

The boater, who flipped his scull boat over in the middle of the Maumee River, was helped by another civilian boater and went on rowing, fire Lt. Matt Tabb said.

The crew had been drilling and was called over for the rescue.

While returning to their rig, the firefighters got another rescue call from fire dispatch and then diverted their attention to the sewer.

"Someone called 911 about the ducklings and we were right here," Lieutenant Tabb said.

After some strenuous work, three firefighters pulled up the grate.

Firefighter Steve Matthews hopped down into the stinky hole.

Ten or so ducklings came out with Mr. Matthews' help - one or two at a time. Some waddled directly to their mother, who waited across the street at the entrance to the waterfront park. Others had to be shooed toward her by the firefighters and passers-by.

Alicia Wade, who witnessed the boater flip over, said the boater tried unsuccessfully to get back in his boat.

A person in another boat threw him a rope and eventually help him back into his scull, Ms. Wade said. A scull is a light racing rowboat.

The boater, the ducks, and the firefighters all went their separate ways.

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