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.
Elderly drivers are not often viewed as drunk driving threats, but this common perception was recently proved flawed when an 83-year-old drunk driver in California struck and killed a man riding on a Segway.
According to Patch.com, Dick Chappell, a resident of Los Gatos, California, was booked into the Santa Clara County jail this past weekend after he drove his car into a Segway-riding man on a crosswalk.
Sources indicate that the incident took place early Sunday evening. Chappell was driving his 1991 Lexus SUV, and apparently ran a red light. When he crossed the intersection, Chappell struck 72-year-old Marschelle Syverson, a resident of San Jose.
Syverson did not die immediately from his injuries. He survived until he reached the San Jose Regional Medical Center, where he later passed away.
While police have not yet released information about the Chappell’s level of intoxication, it seems safe to guess that his blood alcohol content was above the legal limit.
Arresting officers determine that Chappell was probably inebriated when the interviewed him at the scene of the crime. Police also indicate that Chappell was in a state of shock after the fatal accident.
After his arrest, police charged Chappell with several counts, including driving under the influence of alcohol, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and a felony DUI.
While the incident may have been prevented if Chappell had been driving sober, it also raises interesting questions about the safety of Segway devices, which were once hailed as the future of transportation but have had a hard time gaining traction in the consumer market.
At first glance, it would seem that a person riding a Segway across a crosswalk would be more visible than a simple pedestrian. Thus, the Segway might be more easily seen by a speeding driver.
On the other hand, people operating Segway devices, particularly riders who are inexperienced, may not have a firm grasp on their maneuverability. So, when a Segway rider is in danger, he or she may not be able to respond quickly.
This, of course, is all speculation, as it is not clear whether Syverson was an experienced Segway operator. In addition, Syverson’s ability to maneuver the device in a quick fashion is not really relevant because he had the right-of-way while crossing a crosswalk.
Nevertheless, the incident does raise questions about a pedestrian’s safety while operating a Segway.
In addition, the incident shines a light on an under-appreciated aspect of DUI arrests. While DUI arrests disproportionately strike younger drivers, elderly drivers may still be capable of getting behind the wheel while they are drunk.
And, when octogenarian drive drunk, they may be further harming their already compromised reflexes. If you have a grandparent or an elderly friend who drives after drinking alcohol, remind them of the potentially fatal consequences of drunk driving.