No kidding! Goat jumps from HHI bridge

Published Tuesday, May 20, 2008

  • Photo: The pluff mud-covered goat seemed exhausted by her ordeal, but once rescued, she bolted straight into an oversized animal carrier that was used to hold her during transfer to the county animal shelter in Beaufort, where she was taken for a cleanup and examination.
    Jay Karr | The Island Packet
    Enlarge Image
This was one lucky goat ... even if she was fixated on taking a swim and a tad reluctant to be rescued.
Hilton Head Island firefighters spent most of Monday afternoon plucking the 70-pound goat out of waist-deep pluff mud beneath the Charles E. Fraser Bridge over Broad Creek, just east of the Cross Island Parkway toll booths.
The rescue operation began just before 1 p.m. when a fire engine company on its way to training noticed the adult female goat walking into oncoming traffic in the westbound lanes. The goat was headed toward the beach; cars were headed toward the toll booths.
The engine and an ambulance blocked traffic. The crews, along with several Beaufort County sheriff's deputies, tried to corral the nanny.

  • Photo: Rescue workers pull a goat onto the dock of the Cross Island Boat Landing on Monday. The rescue workers are, from left, Beaufort County sheriff's deputy Beverly Bush, assigned to Beaufort County Animal Shelter and Control; volunteer Forrest Baughman from Palmetto Bay Marina; and Tim Santini, a Town of Hilton Head Island firefighter.
    Jay Karr | The Island Packet
    Enlarge Image
That's when the frightened goat decided to take its chances by plunging off the bridge. She leapt and fell between 30 and 50 feet to the soft mud below, said Battalion Chief Cliff Steedley.
For the next three hours, the goat continued to fight her way through the marsh while firefighters came up with a plan to get her out. They first attempted to rappel down the bridge, but called it off because the goat kept moving farther away and there were safety and traffic concerns.
With the goat about 1,000 feet from her original location, firemen used a bystander's personal watercraft and a boat from nearby Palmetto Bay Marina to navigate through the bridge pylons and marsh. They then hoofed it through the mud to get their goat.

They sedated the animal and tied it down before placing it on a stretcher.
One fireman also got stuck in the thick mud but was able to get himself out of the mud on his own.
Despite the ordeal, the goat appeared not to have any significant injuries -- but she was in need of a serious bath.
She was hosed off at the Beaufort County Animal Shelter on Monday evening, which revealed the nanny was brown and white, and not a black goat as previously thought when it was caked in the smelly mud.
"She got up and walked off (into the stall)," said Dr. Frank Murphy, the shelter's veterinarian and founder of the Beaufort County Animal Rescue Team.
"We fed her," Murphy added, "gave her some water, and she's as happy as can be."
A friend of one of the goat's rescuers has volunteered to adopt the animal if its original home isn't determined.
Even if that offer doesn't come to fruition, the goat's chances of being adopted are high, said Murphy.
"I can't think of ever having to put one to sleep," he said, "and I've been the doctor at the shelter for 35 years."