Campfire Causes Overhanging Boulder to Fall, Crushing Sheltered Hunter

It’s a worst nightmare scenario for any camper seeking shelter under overhanging rock, but you rarely hear of it actually happening. A hunter in West Virginia is dead after boulder he and a companion had built a fire under cracked and fell.

Now one of the hunting partners is speaking about the terrifying incident.

Steven Setser, 19, told WOWK-TV in West Virginia that he and hunting partner Donnier Barker, 25, were in the Wharton area of the state Nov. 24 for the firearm deer season when the weather turned cold. Seeking shelter, the two men built a fire underneath a large rock Sester had camped under before.

Some time later, Sester says there was a loud crack and a large piece of the rock fell on the hunters, killing Barker instantly.

“I’ve replayed it one thousand times, what I could have done different,” Setser later told the station.

Setser emerged from the freak accident with no more than some cuts and bruises, but said the boulder came very close to killing him as well. He said he was in a state of shock after the rock fell.

The teenager was able to dig himself out from the debris and drive an ATV back to a relative’s home. Emergency services later recovered Barker’s body. Local law enforcement determined the heat from the campfire caused the rock face to fracture. Setser claimed he had camped under the rock many times in the past.

The rock that fell on the hunters was about the size of a small car and weighed several hundred pounds. Setser said the rock clipped him in the head and back as it fell. The hunters’ rifles were also crushed.

Officials with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources said they are investigating the accident.

“It’s sad. It’s tragic what happened. It’s nothing like I’ve ever seen, really,” said DNR officer Dakoda Chattin.

WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Photo credit: WOWK-TV