Swept away in an instant

Family loses dog in churning creek waters

Mark Kasper was taking his rat terrier, Marty, on a familiar walk Sunday near Brown’s Creek when the unthinkable happened.

Kasper had just let Marty off her leash so the dog could jump into the creek to cool off, something Marty normally did during a walk. However, when she didn’t return from the creek, a worried Kasper went to search for his dog and saw the rapidly churning water flowing into an uncovered culvert.

Kasper panicked and began searching for Marty. He thought the culvert might resurface on the other of the trail, so he ran through the woods, but couldn’t find anything.

Kasper then called Stillwater Police and his wife. who all arrived at the scene a short time later. Marty jumped in Brown’s Creek near Neal Avenue, so Kasper made his way back to that spot, got in the water and waded upstream and check for Marty, to no avail.

Officers called the city Public Works Department and determined that the culvert emptied into another stream in an area adjacent to Kasper’s neighbor’s house. The group made their way to the opening and found it churning with fast-moving water. There was no sign of Marty.

Kasper said that he and his wife believe that Marty’s body is currently in Lake McKusick, where Brown’s Creek empties. The area is difficult to access, though, so they are currently unable to search for her.

Kasper’s son created a Facebook page called “Help Bring Marty Home” and her information is posted on Lost Dogs MN. Kasper said he and his wife have called every animal shelter, animal hospital and the Humane Society looking for Marty, and they’ve made flyers and talked to neighbors.

“We just want to bring her home. The cuts and scratches from that day have healed, but the deeper wound is going to take a hell of a lot longer,” Kasper said.

The fast-flowing creek was likely fed by run-off from two strong thunderstorms that moved through the St. Croix Valley — one in the early morning hours of June 21, the other that evening — which dumped periods of torrential rain.

He wants to warn other pet owners and parents about the risk of getting sucked into the culvert, which does not have a protective grate over the opening. He said that the nearby playground and the popular trails present opportunities to become swept away, just like Marty.

Mark Kasper's son made this sign the family has posted warning people about the dangers of letting pets enter fast-moving streams and culverts after the family's rat terrier, Marty, was swept into a Brown's Creek culvert Sunday. (Submitted photo)

Mark Kasper’s son made this sign the family has posted warning people about the dangers of letting pets enter fast-moving streams and culverts after the family’s rat terrier, Marty, was swept into a Brown’s Creek culvert Sunday. (Submitted photo)

“In an instant, the greatest dog we had ever known was taken from us. We are numb with grief,” Kasper said.

  • Cheri Olson

    The spot where Marty was drawn into the culvert is steps from a popular playground. Kids are naturally attracted to play in water, and with no grate covering this culvert, a child could get swept away. The City of Stillwater needs to act and cover this culvert as soon as possible. At least some good could come out of Martys’ senseless death.

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