Man leaps into freezing river to save baby bear from drowning


While Eli Barkley from Broadway, West Virginia and his father Darrin went to a fishing trip, they never thought what was about to happen.

The Barkleys were heading back to camp from the river when a forest ranger approached them. He warned them about an orphan bear cub who might be in their vicinity. Then, not long after, Eli spotted what it looks like a baby bear on Williams River.

“He looked as if he was just completely wore out or something was wrong, because we pulled up closer to him and he wouldn’t move,” Barkley told The Dodo. “He kinda just stayed there.”

“We were really worried about him,” Eli Barkley said. “The bear looked very wore out and just didn’t look right.”

So the father and son duo alerted the forest rangers and they also called Joel Rosenthal, the president of Point of View Farm in Hillsboro, West Virginia. “Jumped out of my vehicle,” Rosenthal said. “I had equipment to sedate it, but the little bear jumped into the water.”

When they reached the bear, it looked exhausted. He could not even keep his head above the water and the strong current was drifting him away.That’s when Eli leapt into action.

“He got out into the current and as soon as his head went under, I guess it was just natural instinct, I didn’t say nothing to nobody,” Eli Barkley said. “I just sprung out into the water and kinda went for a pretty big swim.”

Eli managed to pull the bear out of the river and then Rosenthal sedate him and now he’s taking care of him. They even named him William after the Williams River. He will remain at the rehab center until he will regain its strength.

“He is very small and starved, but we believe he will do great,” Rosenthal told The Dodo. “He will gain weight and then be placed in another pen with other cubs from last year that lost their mothers to hunters. We hope we can release him this summer.”

The little bear is now safe thanks to Eli Barkley’s heroic actions. I’m very proud, very proud, he did the right thing,” Eli’s father, Darrin Barkley said.