ST. ALBANS — Hours after several people saw firefighters rescue a small deer stuck on thin ice in the middle of Weymouth Pond, the animal was killed by a game warden who saw it suffering and deemed it unlikely to survive.

The deer was rescued Wednesday night, but “When I checked on it this morning it was laying on the shore,” said Maine Game Warden Josh Tibbetts Thursday. “They had put some corn down to try and feed it, but it wasn’t eating it. It didn’t even raise its head.”

The deer had road rash from where it had been hit by a car recently, Tibbetts said, adding that it was likely another injury from the accident that may have disoriented the animal.

“It obviously had something wrong with it, some type of head injury or something,” he said. “It wasn’t afraid of people and that’s probably why it ended up where it was.”

On Wednesday, motorists and firefighters helped rescue the deer after it appeared stranded on thin ice in the middle of the pond off Dexter Road.

“I just noticed as I was driving by and I turned around,” said Amy Philbrick, 39, of St. Albans. “She was sinking into the ice and she actually fell in three or four times while I was there.”

Philbrick said she stopped by the pond at around 5:45 p.m. along with a small group of other people who had been driving by.

“It was hard to watch. It was very hard because she would fall in and you could see she was struggling,” Philbrick said. “She would paddle, paddle, paddle to try and get up over the ice and she’d get up but then she couldn’t move.”

Philbrick called Jason Emery, the St. Albans fire chief, who responded and dispatched a crew from the fire station. She said she also notified the Maine Warden Service, but no one got back to her.

Tibbetts said he was aware of the situation but had decided not to respond after another caller told him it appeared the deer was standing on the ice and wasn’t stuck.

Meanwhile, Emery and another firefighter, Chuck Crump, swam to the ice in the middle of the pond in cold water suits. They crawled on their stomachs to get to the deer, put a rope around her and had a crew on shore pull her to safety, Emery said.

“By the time the firefighters got there, there were probably 10 or 12 cars,” Philbrick said. “They did a great job. It was something that gave you goose bumps to watch.”

The firefighters dried the deer off and a bystander went to his house and brought corn for the deer to eat, Philbrick said.

“She laid down and once we left her alone, she kind of picked up her head and looked at all of us then laid back down,” she said. “It was like she acknowledged what had happened, almost like she was thanking them for helping her.”

On her way to work Thursday morning, she noticed the deer was gone and texted her family, “She made it!” Hours later she learned that the deer was dead.

“It’s heartbreaking. I hope she didn’t suffer,” Philbrick said. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh it’s just a deer,’ but you can’t watch an animal suffer. She just looked so helpless. It was heartbreaking.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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