Cass Bell always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Or the right place at the wrong time.
On March 13, the Bellator bantamweight was eating street tacos in his car with his wife when he heard sirens in the distance. Five minutes later, a white truck pulled up in front of them at an intersection and stopped. A man hopped out of the vehicle and made off with a camera bag and tripod. He didn’t return.
Bell thought the truck might have been stolen, so he approached to move it out of the intersection and see where the man went. Then he saw a child in the back seat.
Police in Eureka, Calif., said it would have been easy for Bell to dismiss the illegally parked truck as a weird interlude and gone about his day. Instead, he investigated and found a child allegedly abandoned by her father, who was said to be in possession of heroin and fentanyl.
People throw around the word hero, but stuff like this happens to Bell all the time. He and his wife always seem to end up rescuers.
“That’s something I’ve been doing my whole life,” he told MMA Fighting. “If I see something that doesn’t seem right, I’ll go right up to it and see what’s going on.”
A few weekends ago, Bell said he and his wife, Chelsa Corral, were at the beach with kids from the Arcata High wrestling team he coaches when they encountered a dirt biker who’d suffered a broken femur in an accident. He drove the dirt bike back to his truck, called an ambulance and watched the man’s bike and truck until he was out of surgery.
Three months before that, he said, Corral rescued a woman who’d been overwhelmed by the current. This past fall, as wildfires danced around Humboldt County, he beat local firemen to one blaze and used empty Coke bottles to stop it from spreading.
“Also, I look out for things,” he said.
Bell called the police and started broadcasting live on Facebook after he discovered the child this past week. Since he became a professional fighter, his friend network has grown considerably, and one of them messaged the child’s mother.
The mother later told him she suspected the father, who police identified as Paul Jurkovich, 36, was using drugs. He was booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility this past Saturday on charges of child cruelty and possession of a controlled substance. In Bell’s video, drug paraphernalia appears to sit on the passenger seat of the truck.
Jurkovich “appeared to believe he had parked in a legal parking spot, did not really realize he was in the middle of the road,” Eureka Police Department public information officer Brittany Powell told MMA Fighting.
Eureka is still a small town, Bell said, but he’s seen more homeless people and drug use on the streets since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“It’s doing a lot of crazy things to people in our community,” he said. “I’ve been seeing big changes.”
Twenty minutes after Bell called the police, the mother arrived on scene and took her daughter home. She sent her thanks on Facebook messenger. The Eureka police were also impressed.
“They investigated and immediately called the police, and no matter how long it took, they sat with that child and made sure the child was OK,” Powell said of Bell and Corral. “They definitely went above and beyond.”
Bell now moves on to his next challenge, a fight with Jornel Lugo at Bellator 256 on April 9. It’s his first appearance in the cage since the first professional loss of his career, a third-round submission to Raufeon Stots at Bellator 242, and he hopes to bounce back with an impressive performance against an unbeaten foe.
This past Wednesday, Bell was walking the short trip from his house to his gym to train. As a heavy duty truck pulled out into the road, a car came out of nowhere at high speed. It missed the truck by a foot, he said.
“I’m just trying to get to practice,” he thought.
Check out the video Bell shot below:
I took down the original Facebook live and am sharing this edited version without the little girls face. I originally started recording because we were worried the baby had been in the back of a car that was stolen and abandoned once we realized she was there. We were hoping someone would recognize her. She was too little to let us know who she was or if she was with a parent and she was locked inside the vehicle. We were in the right place at the right time, and thought it was super strange for someone to leave their car in the middle of the road. The Mother has reached out and she is relieved she is safe .Posted by Cass Bell on Saturday, March 13, 2021