We wish this book to be a retelling of the joy and contributions of Aureet's life. But we are torn by the tragedy of her death which could have been prevented. We must include this story too. We have tried to effect changes in rescue preparedness. It is our hope that others will be spared because of these efforts.

With thanks to the members of CPSR:

  • Citizens for Public Safety and Rescue
  • (Douglas McKelvy and Nancy Bryant - Chairpersons)


What follows is a time line of Jan. 6 1991 reconstructed from discussions with people who came to us after Aureet's death to share with us their experience on that day. Most of them came to us in frustration over the inaction and lack of preparedness of the responding police and firemen of the town of Lincoln. We tried to find out what happened. We had one meeting with Lincoln police officers and firemen on Jan. 10. After that meeting the selectmen of Lincoln did not allow us to ask question or to talk with their officers. We also met with DeCordova Museum employees. Several months later the Lincoln selectmen performed an internal investigation. We received copies of their report including notes about the Lincoln officials' responses to questions asked by the Lincoln selectmen.

Aureet slipped from the edge of the ice near the shore of Sandy pond in Lincoln while trying to help her dog, Flame, who ran into the water. There were many problems with the rescue effort, beginning with a part-time dispatcher who did not keep the caller on the line to ensure correct transfer of information and continued to give incorrect directions up to one hour after the first call. Despite this, five police and firemen arrived directly to the site only 12 minutes after the first call. They stopped the civilian rescue effort that involved several people using a long heavy duty electrical cord to secure a rescuer trying to reach Aureet who was under water. The police and firemen then waited for over an hour and twenty minutes for a diver to arrive despite Aureet being in only 5'6" of water, immediately beyond the edge of the ice, 40' from shore. At the site was a back board and on the fire trucks nearby were ladders that could have been used to make a platform on the ice. From the platform, they could have used the heavy duty electrical cord to secure rescuers.

Site of the accident


During the wait, the primary activity were calls by one of the policemen asking for identification of the 'victim' using the dog tag information from Aureet's dog who had been taken from the water. These calls were fielded by the overburdened dispatcher. The calls were recorded on tape by the Maynard police station that was monitoring a radio channel.

Plaque at Sandy Pond
Plaque at Sandy Pond  [SEE LARGER IMAGE]

A Lincoln Fireman, who had some diving training, was called from home and, while the others stood at the site, went to the police station to pick up a boat (which was not used) then went several times to different access routes. The officers at the site did not go to meet him. The Lincoln diver did not arrive at the site until after the divers from Maynard arrived, who were themselves initially given incorrect directions. Television reporters from Boston walking along trails with full camera equipment arrived at the site before the divers.

The State Police, overhearing the radio communications, volunteered their helicopter. The Lincoln officials originally did not accept. When the offer was eventually accepted, the helicopter arrived at the same time as a Maynard diver reached the edge of the ice.

When the Maynard diver went into the water at the edge of the ice, Aureet was right there. She was also spotted by the helicopter at the same time. There is an unconfirmed news report that the Maynard diver had to wait 15 additional minutes for the backboard / ice sled to be given to him to get Aureet in from the edge of the ice.

In cold water, because of the mammalian dive reflex, people have survived without brain damage after an hour under water. Aureet was under water for about an hour and a half. Aureet was flown to the UMass Medical Center in Worcester on a lifeflight helicopter and was revived. She died the next morning.