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Horse rescue

Published March 15. 2011 05:00PM

Last week's destructive rainfall caused rivers and streams to overflow, filled basements with water, closed schools, and even caused a death in Schuylkill County.

But in most gloom you can find some bright spots. And there was a great story that came amidst the flooding and washouts.

It happened late Friday morning along the Lehigh Canal near Weissport. Fifteen-year-old Matt Behler was riding his 30-year-old horse, Mollie, on the tow path of the canal. There were various locations of water damage on the tow path, which is in itself a shame considering how much work has been put into restoring the historic walkway.

At one location, Behler and Mollie were crossing a washed-out section with water still flowing over it when Mollie got a little nervous and tried to turn around. Mollie, with Behler on her, fell. The current began taking the horse and rider under a fence. Mollie's legs went beneath the fence, but somehow Mollie managed to stay on the tow path.

Had Mollie and the teenager gone under the fence, the ending would have been tragic. They would have gone into the furious waters of the Lehigh River, which overflowed its banks and was lapping against the tow path.

Mollie managed to stand upright. Matt kept his composure. With Matt was his cousin, Sage Miller, who was riding a younger horse.

In addition, a passer-by, Dr. Ronald Sherry, came to assist.

Calls were made to the Carbon County Telecommunications Center and dispatched was the Franklin Township Police Department, a water rescue squad from Lehighton Fire Department, the Franklin Township Fire Department, and Lehighton Ambulance.

Mark Nalesnik, Carbon County Emergency Management Agency director, was on the scene.

Also rushing to the location on their own were members of the recently formed Carbon Animal Rescue Team (CART) which aided greatly in the rescue efforts.

A siding contractor came to the scene and assisted by putting parts of scaffold across the overflow to let Behler, CART members, and firefighters lead the horse to safety.

All this fuss for a horse! Firefighters and rescue workers were willing to risk their lives to save the boy and/or the horse.

With the happy ending, it was a good story. It again demonstrates how people locally come together when there is a need. It shows how firefighters respond to virtually any emergency whenever they're requested, without expecting any compensation.

Behler showed remarkable maturity for his age. He was commended for his composure and actions by several emergency responders.

It's great when we have good news to report. It's wonderful that we have so many neighbors willing to get involved when they are needed.

By Ron Gower

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