Farmer dies while trying to save calves from frozen pond in Dickson County

Posted at 5:49 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 19:52:14-05

VANLEER, Tenn. (WTVF) — A farmer died while trying to save calves in a frozen pond in Vanleer Thursday.

Crews attempt to rescue a farmer from a frozen pond in Dickson County.

Dickson County Sheriff Tim Eads said Donald Mitchell walked out onto the frozen pond to rescue two calves.

While trying to get them out, Michell fell in the water. His wife, Rella Mitchell said he came up once but went back under and never resurfaced.

Thursday's winter storm will make this a call Dickson County Fire Chief, Hawk Wingate will never forget.

"The roads were horrible getting out there, we had issues getting up the driveway, it was a concrete driveway and it was froze over and getting that equipment back to the pond," said Wingate.

Dickson County emergency crews say 77-year-old Mitchell walked out onto a frozen pond to rescue two calves that had fallen in.

While trying to get them out, He fell in the water.

"We deployed two of my swift water guys, and two of Tennessee City divers. They took the boat pushed it out to where he was on top of the ice, they were able to make a quick recovery," Wingate.

But unfortunately Mitchell didn't make it.

"By the time we actually got on scene and got to him unfortunately he been underwater for about an hour and 20 minutes, an hour and 30," said Wingate.

Wingate says he understands why Mitchell went into the water after his livestock .

"Whenever they fall through the water like that, that's a light bill, that's food on the table. So they obviously want to do whatever they need to do to get that out to save it, whatever it may be," said Wingate.

But emergency crews say it's not worth the risk.

"We would rather go out there with the special equipment and help out and do those things then have to try to pull you out of the water," Wingate.

Crews attempt to rescue a farmer from a frozen pond.

The sheriff said Mitchell was under water for about two hours.

Sheriff Eads said the severe winter weather impacted response times for deputies and the multiple EMS, fire and rescue crews who responded.