Rory O’Connor was out kayaking in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, January 7th near Siesta Key, Florida when he suddenly noticed a dog paddling toward him. A dog owner himself, he quickly helped the exhausted and injured pup into his kayak.
An avid fisherman, O’Connor had his mounted video camera running the entire time – just in case he caught “the big one.” The camera recorded Barney’s rescue and O’Connor posted it on YouTube.
After he got the injured dog to shore, he called his sister – whom he was visiting from Washington State – and she took the Hungarian Vizsla to a local veterinarian for treatment of his injuries. While there, he was scanned for a microchip; his name and family information showed up.
“He was in a lot of distress. He was shaking and I thought it was because he was cold, but he was traumatized. He was also pretty beat up. His legs were bloody,” said O’Connor. Tragically, O’Connor discovered the reason the frightened dog had ended up swimming in the Gulf.
Out for a jog with his human, the dog named Barney ran away when they were injured by a hit-and-run driver. Barney eventually ran more than a mile to shore and entered the water. Donna Chen wasn’t as fortunate; she was found dead at the scene.
Police report a 22-year-old man named Blake Talman was fleeing the scene of a prior hit-and-run accident when he lost control of the Nissan Altima he was driving and hit Chen and Barney. The car then continued over some landscaping, hitting a street sign and several poles at the entrance to a church.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has charged Talman with one count of DUI manslaughter, nine counts of DUI with property damage and one count of fleeing the scene of a crash with property damage.
The Chen family reported they received calls from the veterinarian’s office to pick up Barney just about the same time as they got calls informing them of the fatal accident. They are so very grateful to O’Connor for saving Barney and wish to send him a “big, hardy thank you.” “I think Barney coming back to us was a total miracle,” said Dr. Chen.
Donna Chen’s sister, Colette MacPhail,told WTSP News “This [Barney] is our one piece, our one link to Donna. For Barney, he’s going to have his own adjustments. He’s just a piece that came back for us.”
Donna Chen is survived by her husband, Dr. Wellington Chen and three children, William, Tiffany and Andrew. Sadly, Dr. Chen revealed his wife was killed on his birthday.
Photo is screen shot from YouTube video