Hunter killed as heat of fire breaks boulder

Associated Press

Wharton, W.Va. — A hunter died when heat from his fire broke apart a massive overhanging boulder, tumbling on the man and nearly killing his neighbor as well, West Virginia State Police said Tuesday.

Donnie Barker III, 25, died at the scene Monday afternoon, the start of the buck firearms season in the state, Senior Trooper G.S. Walter said.

Barker and the other hunter — his neighbor, Steven Lee Setser, 19 — had built the fire beneath a sandstone boulder sitting atop a rock, Walter said. The heat apparently split the boulder in half and it landed on Barker, Walter said.

Walter estimated that the boulder that landed on Barker was the size of police cruiser. “It was enormous,” he said. “It was incredible to see how it broke off like that.”

Setser barely escaped with his life, Walters said, as the sheared boulder grazed his head.

“Really, he was just lucky,” Walter said. “Another foot or two forward, it would have killed him.”

Setser, who was hospitalized in Charleston with a head injury, was able to leave the scene on an all-terrain vehicle to beckon help for his neighbor.

The two were hunting atop a mountain in Boone County, in southern West Virginia.