By Lee Peck
LILLIAN, Alabama (WALA) — Flash flooding from remnants of Nicholas quickly took its toll on parts of Lillian’s Highway 99 near Spanish Cove Drive South Wednesday afternoon.
“Through the bushes I could see the floodwaters moving really swift — it was already up to the road right where I was at,” said Lonnie Hardy.
Lonnie was enroute to check on his daughter when something unexpected caught his eye.
“Then I saw a deer… It was a baby deer trying to swim. I just couldn’t see that little thing drown,” recalled Lonnie.
On the phone with his friend Mary Ann — the Vietnam Veteran and former police officer said he had to do what he could to save the fawn.
“The deer went under twice before I could do that — completely submerged. I jumped in — it got chest deep when I finally got it… And I struggled and I was trying to get back to my car, which was behind me — and I just could do that. It was too swift,” said Lonnie.
He eventually made it to the nearby golf cart path where another man helped him up. The little deer — clearly knew he had been rescued.
“I said would you mind watching this deer — I’m going to go over here and see if I can get some help… And call somebody. Annd the deer wouldn’t stay — it followed me. It just stayed with me every minute. Where I went — the deer went,” said Lonnie.
After more than two hours of phone calls — they took to socila media for help.
“We called the vet, got in touch with Wildlife and Fisheries, the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office. No one could do anything for us at the time. So we put it on our ‘I Love Lillian’ Facebook page saying we’ve tried this that and the other… We need help! What would you reccomend? And different people had different suggestions,” said Mary Ann Doneth. “We were surprised — no one could help and that it was so challenging to get help for the little deer.”
Finally they were connected to a wildlife rehabilitator — familiar with raising deer. They estimate it’s between 10 and 14 days old.
“Oh — it’s great. Thing is just as happy as it could be,” said Lonnie and Mary Ann. “Adjusting well with the rehabilitator.”
Looking back — the rescue was a risk — something this former first responder says he’d do again.
“Oh, yes… especially animals. Like I said — I’ve got a soft spot for animals, particularly, but I’d do that for anybody,” said Lonnie.
The woman rehabbing the fawn says she is trying to reunite it with its mother — but if that can’t be done — it could take up to two months to get it stable enough to go to a wildlife sanctuary, where it doesn’t need to be bottle-fed or released back into the wild.
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