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Firefighters rescue calf in Ligonier Township mine shaft

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Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

There's no substitute for a mother's love.

Volunteers from several fire companies on Monday night rescued a calf that had fallen into a mine shaft on a farm in Ligonier Township. But it ultimately was the animal's mother that saved its life.

“The (calf's) mother kept hanging around,” Waterford Assistant Fire Chief Pat Kromel said after the rescue. “Fortunately, she stayed far enough away. That, and the fact that the weather cooperated with us, really worked out for us.”

Kromel said it was the persistence of the mother that led to the discovery of the calf, which he said had been trapped for as long as 24 hours before it was saved just before 9:30 p.m. He said the owners knew something was wrong based on the way the mother had been acting.

The rescue occurred on the farm of Otis and Jeannie Case. Dozens of firefighters were on hand to help save the animal in the middle of a field. Despite overcast skies, rain never fell during the two-hour rescue.

Dan Stevens, Westmoreland County Emergency Management director, said rescuers “did a great job” in coordinating efforts to save the animal. He said equipment from Ligonier Construction made the rescue possible.

Stevens said a backhoe was used, and workers removed the bucket and attached a sling to a hook on the equipment to lift the calf to safety.

Kromel said a nylon sling was lowered into the shaft, which he estimated was about 18 feet deep with a diameter of 40 inches. From there, the strap was carefully looped around the calf and then hooked, allowing rescuers to hoist the animal out of the shaft.

The calf did not shows any of any injuries.

Chuck Brittain is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

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