Video: Iowa man jumps into rushing Cedar River to save stranded deer

A photo of the deer entirely submerged in the Cedar River (courtesy of Karen Leeper)
A photo of the deer entirely submerged in the Cedar River (courtesy of Karen Leeper)

WATERLOO -- Karen Leeper said she was anxious at first.

She said that at around 7:00 p.m. Saturday night, she noticed a small deer struggling, braying in panic as rushing water carried it down the Cedar River. A gathering crowd, also noticing the hapless deer, went to help the animal, but this just scared it further. The deer retreated to a structure near the 4th Street Bridge in Waterloo, where it clung, stranded in the midst of the flowing river.

"At first a lot of people were frustrated and sad," said Leeper, 19 of Waterloo. "It was just really heartbreaking to see the deer float down the stream and (the deer) was helpless."

She said it's what happened next that made her start recording a video.

Calls were made to the police, to the DNR, but Leeper said nobody would come to help. That was until an Evansdale man, who declined to be interviewed afterward, decided to improvise with a rope and a life jacket.

Leeper said it took a few him a few minutes to come up with a plan and rig his gear together, and she was worried he might be putting himself in danger. But then he was into the water, and, with the help of other men who approached from the crowd, he was able to wrap a rope around the deer and hoist it out of the river.

Leeper said that her knowledge the men hadn't known each other before hand, and as the deer was returned to safety and police arrived on the scene, the crowd erupted into applause.

"Nobody said it's just a deer, you should just let nature take its course," she said. "Nobody knew each other, it was just the community coming together."

Speaking of nature, Leeper said the man who saved the animal decided to free the animal to its natural habitat. Hopefully somewhere on solid land far away from the rising, rushing water of the Cedar.

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