The tragic death of a pedestrian due to a DUI accident hit a Florida community hard last week, but the bizarre survival of the walker’s dog offered a unique story of its own.
A man who was kayaking in the Gulf of Mexico discovered the pedestrian’s injured dog struggling to swim several hundred yards off the Florida coast, according to a story in the Washington Post.
Sources indicate that 53-year-old Donna Chen was jogging with her dog, Barney, on a sidewalk in Siesta Key, Florida, an island located about 40 miles south of St. Petersburg.
According to a police report, Chen and her dog were struck by 22-year-old Blake Talman, who had been involved in an accident moments before and struck the jogging woman while he was attempting to flee the scene.
After the accident, an injured Barney, a Hungarian Vizsla, leapt into the ocean out of fear and began swimmingly desperately out to sea.
Several hours later, a vacationing kayaker from Bellingham, Washington discovered Barney swimming towards him while the man was trying to fish.
The kayaker, Rory O’Connor, claims that he pulled Barney into the water and noted that the dog appeared “really scared.” In addition, the dog had several wounds on his leg and was bleeding profusely. O’Connor captured the rescue on his video camera, and the footage has become something of a viral hit.
When O’Connor took the dog ashore, his sister observed that Barney was a Vizsla and reminded her brother that the dog might have a microchip, an increasingly common used by pet owners to identify lost animals.
Shortly thereafter, O’Connor took Barney to a veterinarian, who discovered a microchip and was able to identify the dog’s owner. Then, O’Connor was able to contact Chen’s family, which is how he learned of the woman’s tragic death.
Police are still befuddled as to how the dog managed to swim more than a mile away from the accident, and this feat may remain a mystery. Sources indicate that the dog is recovering and should soon return back to full health.
Police, however, declined to comment on the dog because the vase is a vehicular homicide and remains under investigation.
Of course, despite the remarkable story of Barney’s rescue, Chen’s family is mourning her loss, which could have been prevented.
Sources say that Talman, the driver who struck Chen, is facing charges of DUI manslaughter, and is being held without bail at the Sarasota County Jail in Florida. There is little doubt that Talman will likely face an extended period behind bars for the accident.
While routine DUI arrests typically involve some jail time, a suspended license, or a fine, felony DUIs—especially those that involve the death of an innocent person—are an entirely different matter.