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GALLERY: See how firefighters rescued man, injured dog from 50-foot ravine in Conroe

CONROE, Texas – A 63-year-old man and his dog fell Sunday morning into a 50-foot ravine in Conroe, officials said.

The Needham Fire Department responded after 10 a.m. to Lake Drive in the Lake Creek Forest subdivision, where they found Chad McManus at the bottom of the ravine which borders his property.

McManus and neighbors said he was searching for his dog Sandi, a 15-year-old retriever that he rescued in 2006. The dog is deaf and has hip issues, which makes it difficult for her to walk. They believe Sandi got through an opening in the fence and got to the close to the edge of the ravine and fell inside Friday night.

A large group planned to launch a search for the dog Sunday afternoon when McManus decided to find a way to the bottom of the ravine. That is where McManus located his dog, which was injured and severely dehydrated.

McManus then called his wife to report that he found the dog and asked her to call some neighbors to help him get out of the ravine. But, his wife called 911.

When Needham fire arrived, they called The Woodlands Fire Department Technical Rescue Team. The Woodlands fire arrived, set up a tripod alongside the ravine and a firefighter repelled down to McManus and Sandi.

Chad McManus who had no injuries insisted Sandi be removed first. A vest was placed on Sandi and a firefighter brought her to safety up the steep wall of the cliff. Once Sandi was out, McManus was hooked to a rescue line and brought out.

Needham Fire transported Sandi to an emergency vet, where she was evaluated.

The widening ditch

Diane McManus said when she and her husband purchased the property in 2012, the ditch was only about eight feet. But then came hurricanes, Harvey and Imelda. She said the water from the subdivision flows under Lake Drive and comes out of two pipes, which she said flows with as much force as a garden hose.

Over the years, the land has eroded so badly that McManus’ fence is almost fallen into it the ravine, she said.

Gwen Vagas, a neighbor on the opposite side of the ditch, echos McManus’s claim of the size of the ditch. She said when they bought their property in 17 years ago the center of the shallow ditch was 25 feet from their fence.

However, now, the concrete holding the fence posts in the ground is visible.

Both say they have contacted Montgomery County officials to no avail. They were told it is their property and there is nothing the county can do. An engineer they contacted said the cost to repair the damage and resolve the issue is in the neighborhood of $5 million.

Vagas said every year the tax notices come in they have to protest it as their land slowly washes away.

William Dicker, the assistant chief of operations for Needham Fire and Rescue, said edges of the ravine posed a bit of a challenge as it kept breaking off.

He also said the ravine has gotten much deeper with the flooding over the years. The narrow Lake Drive is has a short guardrail along both sides of the road in hopes of stopping a vehicle from going off into it. However, with the edge so close to the edge it would be very easy for a child just like the dog did, fall into it, Dicker said.


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