Two North Carolina residents were arrested on the evening of May 29 after their pontoon boat crashed into Rabbit Island.
Martin Alexander Hackler from Fayetteville was charged with operating a vessel under the influence and not displaying the proper navigation lights on his boat following the crash into the island around 9:30 p.m., causing more than $2,000 in damage. The passenger, Joseph Phelan, also from Fayetteville, was charged with public intoxication, according to Sgt. James Slaughter with the Virginia Department of Game and Island Fisheries.
Conservation officers made another arrest on June 1 when they stopped a boat with passengers illegally riding on the gunwales, Slaughter said. During the stop, officers found that the operator had consumed alcohol and conducted a field sobriety test. Joseph Cuomo II, 19, of Roanoke was charged with operating the vessel under the influence.
Slaughter said three other alcohol related arrests were also made during the Memorial Day weekend.
On the start of the Memorial Day weekend on May 24, conservation officers recovered a stolen PWC after stopping the vessel for not having a registration decal. Travis Lee Doss and Elizabeth Sheree Gearheart of Roanoke were arrested and charged with possession of stolen property.
Slaughter said officers examined the PWC and found the HIN numbers were removed and it matched a PWC that was reported stolen from a home in Wirtz eight days prior. The owner of the stolen PWC was able to provide several identifying marks on the vessel.
DGIF worked with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office to obtain a search warrant for the Doss and Gearheart’s vehicle parked at Oak Grove Public Boat Access facility. Inside the vehicle they found several items believed to be stolen from the Wirtz home.
Slaughter said recovering stolen vessels is one of the reasons why they will often check to assure that boaters have the proper registration displayed. “Someone who steals a vessel can’t register it easily,” he said.