By Scott Schaefer
Photos courtesy Summer Peritore
Summer Peritore was driving home on July 13, 2021 when she witnessed a Mama duck and her nine ducklings crossing Sylvester Road SW, so she stopped to watch the parade of cuteness near St Anne Hospital.
However, as the ducklings were trying to jump up onto the sidewalk, one fell into a drain. Cuteness was suddenly replaced by fear.
“I immediately put my car in park and ran over to see if the baby was okay, but the Mama was in distress and was wanting her ninth baby, clearly,” Peritore – who’s also a Mom – told The B-Town Blog.
Another passerby stopped and helped try to figure out what to do – or who to call – about this fowl tragedy.
“Who? Burien CARES was closed. And I didn’t want to call 911,” she said.
Peritore then dialed the Burien non-emergency line and was put on hold for 5-8 minutes, all the while trying to keep Mama and her babies safe from going back onto busy Sylvester Road, “where cars were driving WAY too fast.”
Mama and her remaining babies kept crossing the busy road and going around the embankment of the hospital all while hearing her little duckling cry from the drain.
Just then, a Burien/Normandy Park Fire Department pickup truck was leaving the emergency area, and Peritore was able to wave them down.
King County Fire District #2 spokesperson Shauna Sheppard told us that the pickup had a crew from 329 in it, which had just wrapped-up a CPR call, including Jim Simonson and BC Reed.
Peritore told them about the trapped duckling, and warned that the concerned Mama and the rest of the ducklings were still venturing back and forth across dangerous Sylvester Road.
“They stopped, heard what happened and raced back to the station,” Peritore said. “They said they’d be right back to help!”
Upon returning to the station, “Simonson … let myself and Charley Dow know what was going on, and BC Reed wanted us to head to the location and see what we could do,” Sheppard said.
Within minutes, firefighters were back on scene with their big engine, including the right tool to open the heavy drain lid. One of the guys lowered half of his body down, asking his mates to “hold my legs, hold my legs!”
“The drain cover was removed and Charley reached way down – with Simonson holding his feet – and retrieved the duckling,” Sheppard explained. “I grabbed it and took it across the street where Mama was eagerly waiting.”
The heroic upside-down firefighter was able to successfully grab the distressed duckling – which had been trapped in the drain for 35 minutes by then – with his bare hands (no duck tape needed), and set it free to meet a very happy Mama and siblings.
“This was truly wonderful work by our local fire department,” Peritore said. “Awesome work also of a few fellow peeps who stopped to help, and to the people who actually slowed down – thank you!”
One of the firefighters said:
“In all my 25 years, I’ve never rescued a duckling!”
“Very sweet and prompt work done by very fine men,” Peritore added.
Mama and all her ducklings were last seen waddling off safely, and we hope they’re doing well, and perhaps have found a new, safer route.