MAN PROVES TO BE DOG'S BEST FRIEND

February 20, 2002 12:00 am

JOSEPH One wayward pooch died but another was rescued in dramatic fashion Monday after both fell through thin ice at Wallowa Lake.

Wallowa County Sheriff Deputy Matt Marmor said the two dogs were chasing a deer along the shore near the foot of the lake Monday morning. The deer ran onto the ice with the dogs in hot pursuit. All three animals fell through and were unable to get out of the frigid water.

A passer-by, Michael Montoya, witnessed the event and took action. He used sheets of plywood to build a precarious walkway over the ice. Two other men, Aaron Welch and David Petty, assisted from shore with a rope. Montoya managed to rescue one of the dogs, but the other drowned, as did the deer.

He (Montoya) was taking a pretty big chance. He could have fallen through. Fifteen minutes in that water, and youve got a hypothermia situation, Marmor said.

The rescued dog was returned to its owner, Brian Coughlan of Joseph.

The identity of the other dogs owner isnt known, said Marmor.

Marmor, Deputy Larry Iles and Oregon State Police officer Randy Palmer arrived late in the rescue.

Marmor said this was the second incident this winter in which someone went across ice to perform a rescue. The other incident occurred on the Lostine River.

The deputy said the incidents demonstrate the need to add an ice rescue team to the local search and rescue organization. He said the organization would accept donations for training, and equipment such as wet suits and a boat.