West Virginia Division of Corrections & Rehabilitation
"If he'd have called and said, 'I'm lost, scared,' we would have went anyway," the local fire chief tells TooFab. "To add that to the story, that was not the right thing to do."
The boy who called ... bear?!
An Ohio man was arrested in West Virginia on Friday and charged with falsely reporting an emergency after he called 9-1-1 and said he was the victim of a bear attack, authorities confirm to TooFab.
Belle Fire Chief David Armstrong confirmed 47-year-old Christian Leonhardt contacted authorities after crashing his side-by-side vehicle in the woods. Per Armstrong, Leonhardt said he needed help and was "being circled by bears and being attacked" -- and even indicated he was injured.
Armstrong said dispatchers told him to "take his shirt off and apply pressure to wounds," only to realize no such wounds existed when Leonhardt was located "pretty deep" in the woods some time later.
Two different fire departments were involved in the search, after Leonhardt's vehicle -- which he had actually crashed -- was located between two response areas.
Per Armstrong, it took him over an hour via his own side-by-side vehicle to get to where Leonhardt himself was eventually found. It was then determined not only was he "not injured," he was "not attacked" by a bear either, prompting authorities to place Leonhardt under arrest.
According to WCHS, citing a criminal complaint, Leonhardt claimed during his initial calls with dispatchers that he had been walking for days -- as searchers attempted to scare off any bears in the area with their lights and sirens. When found, per the complaint, the man said he was intoxicated and "just wanted a ride out of the woods," before apologizing and denying medical treatment.
"We put a lot of resources into this. To find out that's not factual, that's disheartening," Armstrong told TooFab. "If he'd have called and said, ''I'm lost, scared,' we would have went anyway. To add that to the story, that was not the right thing so."
Leonhardt was booked into West Virginia Regional Jail on charges of falsely reporting an emergency and released the same day.