Family sees sign in dog's return from fatal accident

SARASOTA - Donna Chen loved her family, her husband, three children and their dog, Barney.    

Barney, still battered and bruised after jumping into the water off Siesta Key, offers comfort to Donna's loved ones.

"It's an unspeakable tragedy," said Donna's husband Dr. Wellington Chen.

Wellington Chen, Donna's husband of 26 years said his wife left for her usual jog with Barney Saturday, and before they knew it, police knocked on their door.  They told them a drunk driver hit Chen, killing her.

At the same time, Donna's sister Diane Eduardo said the phone started to ring.  "It was so strange," Eduardo explained. "The vets are calling to come pick up Barney."

At first, the family did not know what to make of it. But, the pieces started to fall together.

In what the family calls a huge blessing, video captured what happened to Barney.  Kayaker Rory O'Conner spotted the dog in the gulf swimming towards him.  In the video you can see O'Conner pulling Barney into his Kayak.  (That video can be seen at http://wfts.tv/zH4S6q )

O'Conner said later, "He was really really scared and he was shivering at first I thought he was cold but then I could tell he was really scared," O'Conner said. "He had to swim pretty far and he was pretty beat up. His paw was bleeding and he had a bunch of scrapes."

O'Conner rushed ashore where his sister took over. She took Barney to a vet. Sure enough, the dog had a microchip.

"I think Barney coming back to us was a total miracle," said Dr. Chen.

Police told Chen, the alleged drunk driver, was traveling at least 90 miles per hour and likely missed hitting Barney by inches. Barney and Donna had been on a busy state road and had been at a turn.

"Barney managed to survive after running away in heavy traffic and then swimming a mile or two in the gulf," said Dr. Chen.

"I think a higher power lead Barney to where he needed to be because out of this horrible tragedy there is something remarkable that happened.  Her puppy is alive," said Eduardo.

The alleged drunk driver survived as well. Blake Talman held back tears during his first appearance.  His attorney said he is an expectant father and the baby is due in just a couple of months.

The Chens have nothing to say to him, but desperately want to to talk to Barney's rescuer.  "And just give him a big hearty thank you for all he did," said Dr. Chen.

"We are focusing on Barney and appreciating his life and celebrating his life," said Eduardo.

The Chens also prepare to celebrate Donna's life. They'll say their final good-byes this weekend.

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