SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. (WOWK) — The principal at Zela Elementary School is sharing his story after a bear jumped out of a dumpster right in front of him Monday morning, startling him and sending him running!
“I was truly not expecting that especially at 7:15 in the morning. If you are not already awake, let me assure you, that will wake you up,” said James Marsh, Zela Elementary Principal. “At the time, I was thinking, ‘I just need to give him some space and get out of his way really fast,’ as you can tell in the video.”
Marsh said the incident, which happened on Monday, May 1, wasn’t their first sighting. The bear first appeared about a week ago, leaving behind a mess of garbage bags outside. It was also spotted this past weekend crawling in and out of the locked dumpster.
Despite it lurking around, Marsh said he was still caught off guard when all of a sudden the bear’s head popped out as he was trying to open the lid.
“We had other staff that had walked right by the dumpster on their way to the building and they did not hear a peep and the dumpster was locked,” he said. “I would not expect anything to be inside the locked dumpster. I would never dream to even think about that but I can assure you, I do now.”
The entire encounter was captured by the school’s security footage; however, what you can’t hear in the video is the bear growling right before Marsh bolted.
As the bear runs in the opposite direction, you can also see the school’s custodian in the corner of the frame, shutting the door at the sight of the bear.
“I tease my custodian because she feels bad because in the video she locks me out quickly,” Marsh said. “I tease with her because I say, ‘You were sacrificing me but you were saving the children.’”
Following the incident, Marsh said he showed his students the video, who found great amusement in it.
“I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe afterwards,” said Serenity Taylor and Ava Breedlove, fifth graders at Zela Elementary School. “We just laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe.”
Some students had a different reaction rather than just laughter.
“Two girls told me they said, ‘Mr. Marsh, when you see a bear you should back away slowly, and you should not run,’” he said. “They pointed out that I had made a mistake and I should not have run.”
Moving forward Marsh said he’s going to be a extra cautious around dumpsters. The school will also be taking more precautions to make sure the bear doesn’t come back.
“Every time you go outside you be careful around those dumpsters, you may not know what’s coming out of there.”