Nancy Watkins - A Rescue Tale, All Thanks To WPR's Ry Woody

Feb 24, 2017

Lily and Nancy
Credit Nancy Watkins

My husband and I are North Carolina residents, but have had a home in Jackson for many years. Until our recent retirement, we were not able to spend extended time in Wyoming.

This is our first winter stay and for the first time, we brought our “girls” with us. Even though we have had an excellent caretaker at home, there was no way we were going to leave Lily, 12-years-old and blind, and Roxie, 9-years-old, for the winter.        

Little did I know that when my husband and I set out with our girls on a routine hike up a local trail, it would become a life or death situation for Lily. Lily has been blind for over a year, but I always let her go off leash on this trail because she follows closely at my heels.      

My husband decided to turn around and head back to our vehicle after a while, but the girls and I headed on up the trail. As we neared the 2-mile marker, I checked on Lily. She was nowhere to be seen. To one side of the road, there was a twenty-some foot drop down to Cache Creek. To my horror, Lily had gone down the bank, then on down into the Creek. The snow was so high that she could not get out.

When I reached for my phone to call for help, I realized I hadn’t brought it. I knew that if I went down the hill after Lily, no one would know that I was there and a passerby would not see or hear me. Also, there was no way that I would be able to get us back up the bank in the deep snow. Frantically, I hoped that someone would come along with a phone to call for help, before I headed down the bank to get Lily.

That someone turned out to be a cross-country skier named, Ry Woody. He had no phone, but offered to go down and get Lily. I had only hoped that someone would call for help to get both Lily and me out. I never imagined that anyone would volunteer to rescue her.

This was not an easy rescue. She was in freezing water, unable to see or hear me, and a stranger was trying to handle her. She had to be extremely frightened. Ry, after falling in the creek several times himself, finally managed to lift her out. Even then, there was that steep bank to climb. She struggled against him, but after what seemed like an eternity, he finally managed to get her back to me.

I learned two lessons this snowy afternoon: One is that there are some wonderful people in this world. Ry Woody is a hero! He could easily have skied on by. The other is that Lily will be on a leash from now on!

PS: We are sustainers for our NPR station WUNC back in North Carolina and love to listen to KUWJ while in Wyoming.