BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – The staff of California Water Service typically provides many services to the public relative to the flow and availability of its featured commodity, water. Lifesaving is generally not one of them.
But that changed early Sunday morning just after 7. Frank Lauro was out for a run around a recharge pond southwest of Ming Avenue and Buena Vista Road. As usual, he brought along with his two German short-hair pointers, including an old girl, 9-year-old Lucy.
At some point he realized he hadn’t seen Lucy for a while, so took off his headphones and called her.
“I called out a few times until I finally heard her bark,” he said, “and it was one of those barks where you really know she’s in trouble. It was a distressed bark and I heard it come from the canal.”
He hopped up on a culvert and scanned the horizon in the direction of the bark.
That’s when Jesse Medina came upon the scene, driving along the gravel road parallelling the Kern River Canal in his Cal Water truck. Medina had been pulling water samples from water wells that morning.
“I noticed Frank on top of that culvert,” Medina said, “and [to myself] I’m like, ‘What are you doing?’ And I see on the other side, and I see a dog inside the water. And I’m like, ‘She’s in here.’”
Medina stopped, pulled a push broom from his truck and gave it to Lauro to try to hook Lucy, but she kept floating past. The men scrambled down the road to try to get ahead of the fast-moving water.
“We managed to get in front of her,” Lauro said. “I tried to reach out and grab her and unfortunately at that point, that’s when I fell in. So now we were both in there.”
“When I turn around and come back,” Medina said, “now he’s in the water with the dog and I’m, ‘Oh no!’”
“Jesse got in his truck, got quite a bit ahead of us,” Lauro said. “Grabbed a garden hose. He got set up, threw it out to us. I was able to grab ahold of the garden hose, he pulled us to the side, so that way I could push Lucy up, let her get out, and he pulled me up and out of the canal.”
The final tally: A wet, exhausted dog, a runner who got more exercise than he was counting on and a 13-year Cal Water employee in the right place at the right time.
“I just want to say thanks so much for saving my life – my life and Lucy’s life,” Lauro said, embracing Medina. “We owe you one.”
“I’m glad I could help,” Medina said. “Like you said, somebody was watching.”
“Absolutely,” Lauro said.
While the canal is this high and this fast, perhaps it’s best the dogs not come near, Lauro said, adding that he’ll probably find a different place to run for the time being. This running course has some memories he’d just as soon forget.