By Angeljean Chiaramida
---- — SALISBURY — Arriving to a call that a horse was in distress at Salisbury Beach State Reservation on Sunday, police and firefighters found the animal’s owner suffering from hypothermia as she tried desperately to save him.
“The police department called us and said they’d got a 911 call from the horse’s owner who said her horse was down in the water and drowning,” said Salisbury Fire Capt. Michael Merritt. “I called the (state) Environmental Police and we went to the call.”
While firefighter Frank Demand, paramedic John Condelli and Merritt were too late to save the horse, they were able to help his owner who had developed hypothermia from sitting in the frigid ocean and trying to revive the animal.
“It was really sad, actually, because you could see that horse meant a lot to her,” Merritt said.
Merritt said the owner is a woman from Pelham, N.H. who was in Salisbury with a friend to ride their horses along the shore. Citing privacy laws, police said they could not release the owner’s name.
The woman told firefighters that her 20-year old horse collapsed while she was riding him along the water’s edge. A number of bystanders tried to help, Merritt said.
Arriving at the water, emergency responders realized it was the horse’s owner they needed to treat.
“She was lying in the water trying to talk to her horse,” Merritt said. “And she stayed with him to make sure he wouldn’t be swept out to sea. She was in the ocean a long time and she was soaked. The waves were crashing over her.”
With ocean temperatures so low, it doesn’t take long for hypothermia to set in, Condelli said. She was treated at the scene and transported to Anna Jaques Hospital for further treatment.
Firefighters used ropes to pull the horse out of the water and up the beach as far as they could. A tractor from the state reservation removed the animal from the beach and took it to the state barn.
“You know, it was just one of those weird calls,” Merritt said. “You go and do what you can.”