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State trooper helps reunite missing husky with owners after she went missing in a car crash

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 1/1/2019 By Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Chicago Tribune
a man and a woman sitting on the ground: John and Damianne Daugherty are reunited with Anastasia, a Siberian husky, on Dec. 30, 2018. © Indiana State Police/TNS/TNS John and Damianne Daugherty are reunited with Anastasia, a Siberian husky, on Dec. 30, 2018.

CHICAGO — For Damianne Daugherty, the scariest part of hitting a patch of ice and totaling her pickup wasn’t when she broke the truck’s back window with her head, causing her to be rushed off in an ambulance.

It was knowing that although her children were safe, her beloved Siberian husky Anastasia got scared during the crash and took off running along Interstate 65. It took 24 hours, the help of dozens of strangers, social media posts and two dedicated Indiana State Police employees, but Daugherty got her dog back.

“Just as long as we got Anastasia back home, the injuries to me don't matter. A bump can heal,” Daugherty told the Tribune hours after she was reunited with Anastasia, a 6-year-old dog the family has had since she was a puppy.

Daugherty is originally from Chicago but now lives with her husband and younger children outside Knoxville, Tenn. The family was visiting her older sons who still live in Chicago and one son who lives near Crown Point, Ind. After the visit she was headed back to Tennessee, driving her GMC Sierra south on I-65 in the center lane, going about 55 mph because of the slick conditions, she said.

As she passed mile marker 253 about 8:30 a.m., disaster struck.

“I hit a patch of ice in that lane that put my pickup into multiple spins,” Daugherty said.

Anastasia was in the rear of the pickup, outfitted with a hardtop. The roof was detached when the truck was totaled, according to the crash report. The dog must have been frightened from all the commotion, and she took off running, Daugherty said.

Even though she herself was seriously injured, Daugherty said, “It was devastating not knowing where she was, and if she was all right. She was all I could think about.”

That’s when a series of strangers stepped in to help the family, including former Marine and Indiana State Police Master Trooper Dwayne Halliburton.

Daugherty posted an account of the ordeal on Facebook and shared a picture of Anastasia that was shared almost 700 times as of Sunday afternoon.

“If it wasn't for everyone looking and all the Facebook postings we might never have found her,” Daugherty said.

An alert Indiana State Police dispatcher, Mary Stevens, also saw the social media post.

“I received a text from our dispatcher and she was reading on Facebook that apparently a dog that was traveling in a vehicle that was in an accident and it jumped out of the vehicle and apparently the owners couldn’t find it,” Halliburton said.

Early Sunday Stevens asked him if he could swing by mile marker 253 to look for Anastasia, he said.

“I’m getting close to the 251 mile marker, and guess who’s running on the side of the road,” Halliburton said with a laugh. ”As it turns out, I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

Halliburton, a dog lover but not a dog owner, had some trouble corralling the husky. He pulled off into the median and Anastasia was about 25 feet from him, but didn’t go in the direction he’d hoped at first. As he was trying to control the dog’s movements, he told Stevens he had the dog in sight and asked her to get Daugherty on the line.

The Daughertys met Halliburton on U.S. 30 while he blocked off traffic behind him.

“Everything was going as planned and I was praying to God that the dog didn’t come out to the interstate,” he said.

Shortly after Daugherty and her husband John arrived, they spotted Anastasia and called her to them. The dog and owners were reunited as Halliburton snapped a photo.

Halliburton said it wasn’t the first time he’s saved a dog; he had a similar call in the Jasper area a few years back, he said. Though he visits animal control a few times a week to feed and pet the dogs, he hasn’t yet taken one home. The youngest of his three daughters, now a sophomore in high school, has been begging for a dog, and Halliburton said he expects he’ll cave by the time he hits his 20-year anniversary with the department next summer.

The Daughertys traveled to Chicago in two vehicles and on Sunday John and Damianne, their two youngest children — and of course, Anastasia — piled into John’s full-size Chevrolet Silverado and headed for home. They’ll worry about replacing her truck once they get home, she said. For now she’s just grateful to Halliburton that her family, all of it, is together again.

“God bless him and everyone who helped us in the last 24 hours. Without them, I don't know what would have happened,” Daugherty said.

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