Aurora woman, dog saved from near-catastrophic fall into icy pond

An Aurora woman who tried to rescue her family's dog from an icy pond said she came awfully close to becoming a victim herself.

“I saw her go under twice, and then at one point she went ‘mmmmmm,’ and I was like, ‘Please God, please don't let her die,’” Cathy Medernach, owner of a yellow lab named Bailey, said. 

Cathy Medernach and her son Caden were walking near the retention pond behind their Aurora
home Sunday, when Bailey headed out onto the pond and fell through the ice.

Medernach and her son grabbed the family's canoe. She took the canoe out onto the ice, but then it tipped, sending her into the water which up to her waist. Cathy fought to climb back into the canoe while her son went inside to call for help.

“I sat there and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I'm not going to die like this. I can't. I can’t let my son come back outside, see me drowning and see his dog drowning,’” Cathy said.

Caden had called his father, who told him to call 9-1-1.

“You're doing fine,” The 9-1-1 operator told the son. “Tell her the police said she needs to come back to the shore.”

Cathy said that when rescue teams arrived, she told them to rescue the dog first, but they insisted on getting her to safety.

After getting Cathy inside where she could warm up, Aurora firefighters used ropes, and a floating sled to reach the dog.

A member of the dive team pulled Bailey out of the icy waters. The dog was rushed to a nearby animal hospital.

During about 30 minutes in the water, the dog's body temperature had dropped 10 degrees, and she'd suffered some abrasions trying to climb onto the ice.

Bailey should be OK but Aurora Fire Marshal Javan Cross said there's a lesson here, whether it's a dog, or a human, that's fallen through the ice.

“Leave it to the professionals,” Cross said. “We're trained to be able to do all kinds of rescue, pets included, so let us do our jobs, and don't make any incident worse than what it needs to be.”