Dog Flees Scene of Fatal Accident, Found Swimming in Gulf of Mexico

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.


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Sheltering Japan’s Dogs After Disaster

Nevada Airport Worker Saved a Dog, But Lost Her Job


Photo is screen shot from YouTube video


Alexandra G.
Alexandra G3 years ago

sad story

Amy W.
Amy W3 years ago

I am so proud of humanity when we take steps to rescue the animals that we as a species perpetrated peril on in the first place. Nice job kayak guy!

Karen Ryan
Karen Ryan3 years ago

What a horrible birthday. At least they had Barney, thanks to a kayaker in the right place at the right time.

Shirin Ighani
Shirin Ighani3 years ago

Wow. What a story

Jana DiCarlo
Jana DiCarlo3 years ago

sad, at least the dog made it to a person who helped him

Lorraine Andersen

what a sad sad story. I am so glad that Barney made back home for the rest of the family to enjoy.

Anteater Ants
Anteater Ants3 years ago

thank you

heather g.
heather g3 years ago

Vizslas are beautiful dogs - they seem very sensitive and gentle. We have three in our town. Unfortunately, one of these dogs is owned by a thoroughly awful person who repeatedly shouts at the dog and leaves him to fry in his hot car.
The SPCA has attempted to bring about a positive change, but to no avail. They don't know how to confront wrong-doers. The loud-mouth is a reprobate and I really feel so sorry for his Vizsla. I hope circumstances change as the SPCA and police are unable to educate him and there's no other authorities to contact.

Audrey B.
Audrey B3 years ago

What a beautiful dog, thank God you were there for Barney. He must have been so scared, poor baby. Feel so bad for him. Thank goodness he had a micro-chip.

These hit and run drivers are criminal, if caught I hope he spends years in jail. The same for DUI drivers. The not only took this dog (mommy) but there are children now without a mom. Just terrible

Gianna Macias
Gianna Macias3 years ago

And the criminal, most likely a slap on the wrist, what is the matter with this world