GOLDEN VALLEY, MN (CNN) - Steven Peterson was driving home from his friend’s house when he saw something bobbing up and down in the frozen river. He turned his car around to go inspect what could be in the water.
“I stopped and I looked closely, and I could see these arms struggling to stay above water,” Peterson said.
He saw right away that it was a deer. He thought about calling 911 but knew the deer didn’t have much time. It had icicles all over its face, and it looked like it had been in the water for a while.
Peterson pushed a log out toward the deer and got on his hands and knees, crawling to the animal, which was moving frantically as it tried to get out of the river.
“As I moved out onto the ice, the ice got thinner and thinner, to the point where I could see the water below it,” Peterson said.
He finally reached the deer, put a trailer strap around its head and front leg, and pulled. It was a struggle, but the deer was finally out of the water.
Then, he took the straps off of the deer. That’s when he decided to give it a name - Miss Ice River.
“I was completely drenched, soaking wet, freezing cold,” Peterson said.
The deer lay limp, too weak to stand. Peterson waited with the deer for another hour, making sure it was OK.
“After I felt that this deer was OK and no longer in a near-death situation, I said my farewell to the deer and made my way back to my truck,” he said.
When he decided to record himself rescuing the deer, he had no idea that the video would take off on social media.
“You know, I knew there would be people saying that, ‘You took such a risk! And it’s dangerous! And I knew that,’” he said.
But ti was a risk he was willing to take, and he is glad he did.
“If I would have just ignored it, dismissed it, it would have eaten at me, and I would have felt this sense of guilt,” Peterson said. “I would have kept thinking for years to come that I should have rescued this deer.
Miss Ice River got a second chance to live and has Peterson to thank for it.
Peterson says he was a teacher at the Michigan School for the Deaf, and the problem solving skills he acquired as a wood shop teacher there helped him rescue the deer.