A Maryland police officer rescues chicks from a manhole


People come to police stations for all sorts of reasons – to make a report, to ask an officer a question, or perhaps to investigate a case. At 11 a.m. Wednesday, someone entered a Montgomery County police station in Olney, Md., with an unusual request for help: A duck was acting oddly at a manhole. Could the police check this?

The duck, the person said, walked a sidewalk over the gully for about an hour and made an emergency noise that sounded like crying.

Officer H. Chen was at the station doing paperwork when he heard the report about the duck. Chen, who asked the Washington Post to withhold his first name because he was concerned about possible harassment, decided to see if he could help. His thoughts quickly turned to one of his most fulfilling moments as an officer, reuniting parents with their 3-year-old child who had run out of the house unattended.

A duck is obviously not a child, he thought, but he wanted to see if he could reunite this animal family.

When he arrived at the crime scene in Block 3200 On Spartan Road, less than half a mile from the station, he heard the sound of ducks calling from the drain. The mother duck still stood there and kept watch.

Chen peered down the drain and saw a circle of eight tawny feathered ducklings looking confused. The babies, he believed, had slipped through the cracks in the sewer cover.

Thieves broke in and took their dogs away. Her congregation gathered to get her back.

Chen noticed two small tunnels inside the drain and worried that the tiny ducklings might waddle into the tunnels where he couldn’t reach them. He didn’t want to wait for the county animal welfare service, but he did have to remove the drain cover, which weighed about 100 pounds.

So he called three he knew from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and explained the situation to them. Captured baby ducks. A mother duck howls. They raced over and arrived within five minutes. The rescue was pending.

Responders opened the drain cover and Chen ran behind a nearby CVS, where he found blue plastic containers on the ground perfect for blocking the underground tunnels.

With the plastic containers in hand, Chen reached about four feet down the drain while a fire and rescue worker held Chen’s body by his belt. Once the containers were in place, it was time to scoop the ducklings.

One by one, Chen lifted the tiny birds to the surface. As each reappeared, it greeted its mother, who had stopped croaking.

When they were all together again, the family of ducks moved towards Spartan Road as a pack.

“Of course I’m glad they can start their journey together again,” said Chen, 39.

Her dog suddenly died. Then a Chewy delivery brought a surprise.

Montgomery County Police released photos of the rescue to Twitter, urging people to comment on the light-hearted and adorable situation.

“I saw a lot of likes that we did a great job for the community,” Chen said.

Chen, who joined the department in 2014, said he wanted to be a police officer since he was a child. His family immigrated to New York from China in the 1990s, and while he was learning English, Chen fell in love with films starring Jackie Chan who played cops, like Police Story and Rush Hour.

After graduating from the University of Connecticut ROTC program, he joined the military in 2010. Now, while working full-time at Montgomery County, Chen trains for the Army Reserve on the weekends.

He said he’s glad he helped the chicks reunite with their mother and even better that it made people smile.

“It’s great that people are happy,” Chen said. “If these photos made their days, then I did my part.”

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2022/07/14/maryland-police-rescue-ducklings/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_lifestyle A Maryland police officer rescues chicks from a manhole

Chris Estrada

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