New Hampshire police officers were engaged in a low-speed dog-chase on a highway along the state’s border with Vermont when they discovered that a real-life Lassie was leading them to rescue two men thrown from a truck and suffering from hypothermia.
The driver, Cam Laundry, 31, and his passenger, Justin Connors, 40, were found injured but alive on Monday thanks to Tinsley, Laundry’s canine companion. Another dog, Connors’ bulldog, was hit by a car and found dead on the side of the road after the accident.
Captain Tim Cohen of the Lebanon police department said Laundry’s truck appeared to have fallen from the embankment into the woods “in such a way that it would not normally have been seen by a passing motorist”.
“It’s pretty incredible that we were able to help these men, not even knowing that they were there to begin with. It was a good stroke of luck,” Cohen said. “The dog definitely played a large part in this because it drew our attention to that area.”
The two friends were heading back home from dinner before the car accident. Laundry was not wearing a seatbelt and was charged with driving under the influence. He called the incident “a wake-up call”.
“I couldn’t believe the amount of intelligence she had to know that we were in distress and kind of do a Lassie-thing and go get help,” Laundry told the Guardian. “I’m still trying to recollect everything that happened. She’s a little guardian angel.”
It was onlookers from the road that first alerted police to the loose German shepherd on a bridge.
“Of course we care about the dog. We don’t want to see it get injured, but it can also pose traffic hazards to motorists or pedestrians,” Cohen said. “We wanted to make sure the dog didn’t cause an accident, especially on the interstate.”
"[Tinsley] wouldn’t really get near anybody,” Cohen said.
After chasing the dog for five to 10 minutes back and forth between New Hampshire and Vermont on the Veterans Memorial bridge, police followed Tinsley to a gap in the road’s guardrail near the intersection of interstate of 89 y 91, later revealed to be the scene of Laundry’s crash. Emergency services were immediately called.
The Lebanon police chief, Phillip Roberts, said he had seen this behavior from police-trained dogs before, but never from a household pet. Laundry is back home now and Connors is recovering from leg and neck surgeries in hospital.
“I want my friend Justin to get better as soon as possible. Things could’ve been a lot worse than they were,” Laundry said. “We’re very fortunate to be here today because of my dog, Tinsley.”