A Michigan woman and an Indiana man died within two days of each other after both attempted to save their dogs who ran out on frozen ponds.
On Saturday night, Tracy Cashman took her Goldendoodle Lola for a walk at a nearby park, WWMT reported. About a half hour later, Lola returned home — but without her owner.
“She came back without a leash and no Tracy,” Cashman’s mother, Rhonda Moore, told the outlet. “It was a quick trip. She wore a light jacket and didn’t take her phone. She must have let the dog off her leash, and the dog ran out in the back pond on the ice.”
Knowing that Cashman often took Lola for walks in Battjes Park, her family immediately went searching in the area. When they couldn’t find the 38-year-old mother of three, her family called the police for help.
Within a few hours, crews from the Wyoming Fire and Police Department discovered Cashman’s body covered with ice in the park pond, WWMT said. Rescuers immediately performed a cold water rescue but it was too late for Cashman.
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Investigators believe Cashman — who worked as an administrative assistant with the Operations and Transportation Services of Godfrey-Lee Public Schools — accidentally fell through the ice while attempting to rescue Lola, according to WWMT.
“Where she fell in, you step off and it just drops,” Moore told the outlet. “I don’t think she knew that and she probably didn’t even think about that.”
“Tracy would never go on the ice for any other circumstances,” Moore added. “But if the dog broke through the ice and the dog was struggling, she would save the dog.”
Following her tragic death, Cashman’s employer issued a statement on their website, explaining that the district would have a half-day on Dec. 10 with grief counselors available on site.
“[Tracy] had a big heart for kids. She was quick to notice a student that needed a smile or an extra hand,” the school wrote. “Students found her to be a trusted friend at school that they could count on when they needed her.”
A funeral service will be held this Friday for Cashman, with the district closing for the day to allow staff and students to attend the ceremony. A GoFundMe campaign has also been set up in her honor to pay for funeral expenses.
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Less than 48 hours after Cashman’s unexpected death, tragedy struck again — this time, in Indiana.
On Monday afternoon, an unidentified man in his 20s was walking one of his Huskies around an apartment pond when the dog took off onto the icy sheet, according to the IndyStar.
A nearby witness, Scott Filchak, first attempted to intervene after he noticed the man struggling to save his dog.
“I see a dog in the water and the man on the ice, so I throw [my car] into park and just run out there and he falls in,” Filchak told WTHR. “I slide onto the ice. I try to pull myself up as much as I can and it starts to break.”
When Filchak realized he was unable to save the man on his own, he called over Meroune Baoch, who he spotted nearby walking his dog, and desperately asked for help, according to WTHR.
“He was on his chest trying to help the other guy,” Baoch told the outlet. “The guy was moving a lot and he was asking for help, so the only thing I thought was to jump in and try to help, but the ice was so thin.”
Despite their valiant attempts, the frigid waters — which both men reportedly fell into but were able to escape out of — prevented them from successfully rescuing the man and they called 911.
RELATED VIDEO: Firefighters Rescue Dog from Dangerous, Icy Pond Plunge
A team of divers eventually found the man approximately 30 feet from the shore, according to the IndyStar. He was transported to St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis but was later pronounced dead.
Filchak and Baoch were also seen by doctors at the hospital as a precautionary measure, but were unharmed from the waters, the publication said. The man’s dog also survived.
Causes of death for both Cashman and the Indiana man have not yet been released.
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