Nova Scotia

Man with axe comes to rescue after cellphone lost in depths of huge ice wall

Viola Doncaster says her sister dropped her phone in a four to six metre-high ice wall in Irish Vale, N.S., on Monday. She says a number of people stepped in to help, but that a man with an axe was the one who retrieved it.

Sympathetic man who rescued cell phone trapped at the bottom of an ice wall

A view of the ice wall in Irish Vale, N.S., on Monday. (Submitted by Cecilia Rossetti)

Viola Doncaster says she felt compelled to write a poem for the man who wielded an axe to rescue her sister's mobile phone from a massive ice wall at Irish Vale, N.S., on Monday.

"He had cut the hole big enough through the ice and went down underneath far enough to get it. He was amazing," she told CBC Radio's Maritime Noon.

Doncaster, like many people in the area, had gone out to see the ice wall up close along the shore of the Bras d'Or Lake. She said her sister was just finishing taking pictures with her phone and putting her gloves back on when the cellphone fell between the crevices of ice, about a metre and a half deep.

This wall made up of huge blocks of ice piled up along the shore of the Bras d'Or Lake has only happened a handful of times in recent decades. (Submitted by Cecilia Rossetti )

The case that held the phone had a cardholder that was holding her credit card and driver's licence, Doncaster said.

"You could see it on the ground at the bottom. But there was no way you could reach it," she said.

The ice wall is estimated to be about four to six metres high and almost five metres wide and 700 metres long. 

The wall was formed after a sheet of ice on the larger part of the lake broke apart and then a few days of consistently high winds created big waves washing the ice ashore, said Bruce Hatcher, the director of the Bras d'Or Institute and Cape Breton University chair in marine ecosystem research. 

Doncaster said her sister called a friend who lived nearby who had a grabbing tool to see if that would do the job.

The friend showed up with the grabbing tool, but it wasn't long enough to reach the phone.

Next, Doncaster said another friend came by with a net attached to a hockey stick and a rake. But neither of those things could free the phone.

Finally, a man named Colin MacLeod from Glace Bay, N.S., arrived with the axe and that's when the phone was retrieved — undamaged and still functioning.

"I said, 'Oh my gosh, come here — I have to give you a hug to thank you.' I said, 'We're so grateful.' My sister was saying, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you,' 100 times over," Doncaster said.

Later that day, Doncaster went on her husband Ivan's Facebook page and posted a poem for MacLeod called "Luck of the Irish."

Colin MacLeod 
From Glace Bay, 
May many blessings
Come your way!
You came to the rescue
To retrieve a cell phone
Using your ice axe 
Up in Irish Cove.
Though you were a spectator 
Like all of us too
You went above and beyond 
To find your way through 
The five or so feet
Of clampers that hid
My sister's cell phone,
Yes that's what you did!
Your bravery and kindness
Showed your beautiful soul
And your wisdom helped you
To accomplish your goal.
May the luck of the Irish
Always shine upon you
And bless you forever
In all good things you do.

With files from Maritime Noon

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