Over 12 people swapped many hours of warm festivities in their homes on Christmas Eve to save six Elk that were trapped in a frozen river after falling through the ice.
The majority of the elk herd made it across the river unscathed, but 12 had broken the ice falling into the freezing Kettle River near Barstow, Washington.
Rylee Stuart’s other half first saw them struggling, grabbed a kayak and rallied friends to help save the elk.
Speaking with KXLY-TV Channel 4 News Stuart said: “When we got up there, there was a group of people,”
“They had one [elk] on the way to the shore and they one to the shore already. There were still 10 left.”
According to a report, someone called the Washington Fish and Game Commission (WFGC) for assistance but were told to ‘let nature take its course’.
However, refusing to follow the advice of the WFGC the families managed to drag one of these humongous animals to shore by hand and used a winch of a 4×4 truck and lots of rope to rescue the others.
Unfortunately, 6 of the 12 animals died but 6 were saved with one calf ‘holding on’ while being wrapped in blankets by a helper on the river bank.
Stuart said, “All the women there laid with this last calf…and cried with it, and it kept showing a little bit of improvement until it finally was able to walk.”
She said that spending Christmas Eve with her family on that freezing river rescue was unforgettable and she “would do it again in a heartbeat”.