When Laurel Reichold and her family woke up on a recent Sunday morning, she looked outside and noticed it was rainy.
She checked the forecast. It was supposed to rain all day. It was April 11 -- a day that now stands out in her mind, because of what would follow.
Reichold, of Jacksonville, Florida, thought it might be fun to take her sons on a brief outing; a little rainy day pick-me-up.
So, they headed to the car, with Reichold thinking she’d get a coffee for herself and a treat for the boys.
How the day was about to unfold, she probably wouldn’t have expected.
Once they got in the car, they passed by a pretty big pond. It was a drainage-type pond associated with a neighborhood development. Reichold recalls seeing a mother duck with a bunch of ducklings in tow.
“I remember seeing how many she had,” Reichold said. “It was noticeable, which I pointed out to the kids.”
They looked, then went on with their day, and then -- a coincidence.
The family was heading back from lunch later on, and they drove by the same pond, which is pretty close to their house. When Reichold looked down a side street at one point, she spotted the mother, but not the baby ducks.
“(The mother duck) was kind of near the drain,” she said. “So in my mind, I was like, ‘Uh oh.’ We pulled up to the drain, got out, went over and saw seven of the ducklings inside. (The mom) had three (ducklings) with her. But seven had fallen into the drain.”
Meanwhile, the rain persisted.
Reichold remembers lots of water going into the drain. She guessed that the ducklings had likely got swept in. The mother duck was quacking and quacking -- and the Reichold family wasn’t sure what to do.
They thought about getting a net, and another good Samaritan pulled over as well, who tried to go get one. When he came back empty-handed, Laurel Reichold knew they needed to take action, and quickly.
The family was squatting over the drain, strategizing, when they finally made the call: “Let’s bust it open.”
So Reichold and her husband muscled the gate out of the way.
The couple has three children: 6-year-old twins and a 9-year-old. Reichold sent her oldest off with instructions to go get a big stick, so they could test how deep the water was before going in.
When they discovered it was only about waist-deep, Reichold went for it -- she entered the water. But as soon as she lowered herself in, the ducks scattered.
Still, she wouldn’t give up that easily.
Reichold stayed there, trying to remain as still and calm as possible, for about 15 minutes, and the ducklings eventually returned.
“And then I had to snatch them as fast as I could, and they were fast!” she said with a laugh. “They had lots of energy. It’s not like they’d been in the water for a few days. These guys had just fallen in. But I got them one or two at a time, and I was able to get them all.”
Next, the group had to make sure the ducklings were headed the right way, back to the mother duck.
It was a safe reunion. They all made it.
You could tell the mother duck accounted for them all, too, Reichold said.
“It was a great lesson for my guys about how important it is to be helpful in nature, in any situation,” Reichold said. “It’s part of our duties as humans. You always have to help wildlife, especially in need.”
It was cool too, she said, for her sons to see her in a “heroic” type of role.
“It was just doing the right thing,” she said. “And being in the right place at the right time. We felt really honored that we were put in a position to help them.”
The family has even gone back to check on the animals, and it seems as if the ducks have remained in the same area.
“It was such an amazing experience,” Reichold said. “It was totally meant to be.”