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Deputy saves foal from drowning in Corolla

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Posted at 8:16 PM, Jul 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-20 20:16:21-04

An off-duty Currituck County Sheriff's Deputy rescued a wild mare and her foal from drowning in a canal in Corolla.

It happened Tuesday afternoon after a resident reported that the mare and her foal had been trying to get out of the canal for nearly five hours.

Deputy Nathan Large, who works part-time for the Corolla Wild Horses Fund, was called to help the two horses out of the water.

When he arrived, it was immediately obvious that the foal was having trouble keeping his head above the water.

"He was shaking when I got here," Large said. "It seemed like he was fatigued. It seemed like he was starting to put his head down in the water, and I was getting concerned that he was going to start sucking in water."

Large and another employee tried to lead the foal and mare toward safety, but the pair wouldn't budge out of the water.

"Then we tried to throw a rope over the foal's neck to try and guide him around the bulkhead - that didn't work," Large commented.

With precious minutes ticking by and the foal's head drooping dangerously into the water, Large knew he had to take action, so he jumped into the canal to pull the foal out.

"He looked a lot heavier than I thought. I got in there and I thought "Man, this guy is going to be like 200 pounds" and I picked him up and it was easier than I thought it was going to be," Large explained.

After getting the foal out of the water, Large then turned his attention to leading the mare to safety.

He swam and walked beside her for the length of two football fields to a boat ramp where she climbed out of the water - her foal following along on land the entire way.

Corolla Wild Horses Fund Executive Director Karen McCalpin calls Large a hero.

She says that the bottom of the canal has Carolina quicksand and the water is murky and often filled with snakes, yet Large jumped in anyway to save the foal.

"Nathan really put his own life at risk to jump in and do this, and we are just so proud of him," McCalpin explained.

Large shies away from any mention of being a hero.

"No, no not at all. Anytime I can help any person or animal within my means, I'll definitely do it," Large said.

The rescue of the foal and mare was a happy ending for the wild horses of Corolla, just one week after another foal drowned in another nearby canal.