KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WOWK) — An Ohio man is being charged with falsely reporting an incident after investigators say his call to authorities to report a bear attack was just a ploy to get out of a wooded area of West Virginia.
According to a criminal complaint from Kanawha County Magistrate Court, first responders were called in the early morning hours of Friday, Sept. 22, to assist a man in the woods. Dispatchers said the man claimed he was injured and stranded along steep terrain.
Dispatchers said the man cried “Please help me!” and that he was being attacked by a bear, according to the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office. The man also allegedly claimed that he had been walking for days, his phone was dying and that the bears were circling him and he was going to die.
The man was later identified as Christian Leonhardt, 47, of Brecksville, Ohio, according to the complaint.
Deputies say they, and several search and rescue groups, worked to locate Leonhardt, using emergency lights and sirens to both scare away any bears and point the man toward their location. Authorities say they also attempted to get a helicopter from the West Virginia State Police or another agency to assist in the search.
The criminal complaint says while on the phone with dispatchers, Leonhardt allegedly continued to say the bears were stalking him and that he began screaming. He also allegedly claimed to have a head injury and was bleeding. Dispatchers say they advised him to apply pressure with his shirt if he was badly bleeding.
According to the complaint, after a two-hour search, crews finally found Leonhardt. Once they were at his location, he allegedly denied medical treatment from fire and EMS crews, claiming he just wanted a ride out of the woods. First responders said Leonhardt was not bleeding and did not have any visible injuries.
Deputies said Leonhardt allegedly told them he was extremely intoxicated and apologized for wasting their time, but that he needed to get out of the woods.
Leonhardt was arrested and is being charged with falsely reporting an emergency incident.