By David Noss
CALIFORNIA, Md. (December 20, 2010) News of two Maryland men, who were each fined $90 by the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) after rescuing a trapped deer from the icy waters of the Patapsco River, has reached around the world after being featured on The Drudge Report the past few days. The men launched their raft to rescue the animal while an NRP officer and a Baltimore County fire crew reportedly stood by discussing whether it was safe to attempt to make a rescue.
The men were subsequently each fined for not having personal flotation devices in the raft. Maryland requires the devices in water craft, but they are only required to be worn by individuals thirteen years of age or younger.
Khalil Abusakran, one of the two rescuers, said he repeatedly told the NRP officer he had the required devices in the raft, according to a Washington Post report.
NRP Superintendent Col. George Johnson issued a prepared statement today disputing Abusakran's claim and standing by his officer's action to issue the tickets.
"Contrary to widespread reports, the raft was not equipped with the legally required safety equipment. Given the conditions of the water, what began with an animal in distress could have quickly led to a human tragedy, requiring an emergency response that could have endangered even more lives," said Johnson in the statement. "The Maryland Natural Resources Police are charged with protecting public safety as well as enforcing the laws of the State of Maryland. I have full confidence that the officer on the scene performed his duties as required by law."
There is more to the story other than allegedly not having flotation devices onboard, according to Johnson's statement. "The citizens involved disregarded the orders of numerous public safety officers on the scene including Baltimore County Police and Fire Officers as well as the NRP by entering the icy waters on an inflatable raft and remaining in the water after being ordered back to shore."
Small fines aside, all's well that ends well. "We are all very grateful that there was ultimately a safe outcome for the citizens and the deer," concluded Johnson.
Both men have vowed to fight the tickets in court on February 18.
Rescuers fined after freeing deer from Patapsco ice, Baltimore Sun, December 18, 2010
Deer's rescuers face fines, Washington Post, December 20, 2010