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April 22, 2014

Lucky Ducklings

13 baby ducks saved after being in storm drain

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer

It may not have been as dramatic and heroic as many other rescue stories, but a couple of Corbin firefighters and some local residents went beyond the call of duty Monday afternoon.

That was after they saved 13 baby ducklings caught inside a storm drain.

On the Cumberland Gap Parkway (U.S. 25E), near Long John Silver’s.

And that turned out not to be an unlucky number.

The rescue happened around 4 p.m. That’s according to Corbin Fire Chief Barry McDonald.

“They were about this big,” he said, as he showed the baby ducks’ size with the thumb and index finger of his right hand. “And they were scared. There was no way they could get out of that drain. And when we put them in the box, they were chirping like crazy.”

Battalion Chief Larry Jones and Lieutenant Alex Onkst were the Corbin Firefighters called to the scene to help in the rescue.

“Dispatch called and said if we could assist on getting some baby ducks that were in a storm drain. We went up there and two pedestrians found the ducklings in the storm drain which was welded,” Onkst recalled during an interview at the fire station Monday evening.

McDonald confirmed the call.

“They found them (the ducklings) and called the station to get a box to put them in. And I called Daniel Wallen (of the towing and lock-out service company) and he brought another box and two big fish nets. I also called (Corbin) Public Works Director, Gary Kelly. I think what happened was the ducklings were walking right across 25E, right in the median,” he noted.

McDonald added Kelly, Onkst and Jones worked on the rescue, taking the nets to scoop the baby ducks out. It was Onkst who used the net to catch the ducks, while Kelly got the ducks out of the net and put them into one of the boxes.

“I had four of ‘em in my hand. I just went over the drain boxes. The state highway boxes, were welded shut,” Kelly recalled Monday afternoon.

All 13 ducklings were rescued.

They were taken to Wallen’s farm, where they were placed in a pond and freed by his stepdaughter, Haley, and his son, Dylan.

You may remember the old song, “Be kind to your web footed friends, For that duck may be somebody’s mother.”

In this case, the ducklings’ mother was with them when they got caught in the storm drain.

Last time the rescuers checked, Mama had flown away.

“We made several attempts to catch the mother, but we’re unable to do so,” Onkst admitted.

Said Jones, “I just wish we’d caught the mother. We’d get close to the mother and she’d fly away. The babies appeared big enough that they wouldn’t need their Mama,” Jones said Monday evening.

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