Stonington — Early Wednesday afternoon, a 33-year-old female horse walking unsteadily down Sommers Lane fell over a stone wall and into a small stream. Despite the efforts of a group of rescuers, the horse later died.
One of the first at the scene, Stephen Parenteau, who lives in a home next to the stream, was able to move the horse to shallower water and get a rope around its neck.
"This poor thing. I'm just trying to keep its head out of the water so it doesn't drown," he said, as he occasionally tugged on the rope so the horse's head would stay on the bank of the stream.
Occasionally, the mare would try to stand, but it was too weak and could not stabilize its hooves on the rocky stream bottom. As the horse began to shiver and struggle to breathe, a neighbor tossed Parenteau a small red blanket to keep it warm.
Police, Wequetequock firefighters, residents and workers from nearby farms arrived as word spread about the injured horse. Police, meanwhile, were going to nearby farms to determine who owned the horse but were having no success.
After being in the frigid stream for about 90 minutes, the mare was pulled from the water by a group of about 10 people.
Two veterinary technicians attended to the horse, which was covered with a tarp and had its head propped up with hay bales. They dried its hair and tried to comfort it.
Repeated attempts to get the horse to stand failed. Veterinarian Matt Kornatowski from Twin Pines Equine Veterinary Services of Voluntown and a woman who knew whom the horse belonged to both arrived at the scene. Just as they made the decision to euthanize the animal, it died. The rescuers then solemnly covered it with the tarp.
Police said the horse belonged to Patricia Johnson, who lives on nearby Wheeler Road.