Numerous boating party arrests

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, July 26, 2017

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

SURRY — Law enforcement officers arrested nine individuals for operating under the influence, two for marijuana possession and issued numerous summonses at the annual offshore boating event in Cobham Bay off Chippokes Plantation State Park.

While the boating event occurs the same weekend as the Pork, Peanut and Pine Festival, it is not connected to that event, according the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

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There were no incidents at the festival itself, said Surry County Sheriff Carlos Turner, adding that park rangers made three arrests for drunk in public. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The annual boating event, with boat operators “rafting up” their vessels, attracts an estimated 400-500 people, creating a party-like atmosphere resulting in calls for public intoxication, assault and narcotics possession, according to DGIF.

The operation included multiple law enforcement agencies including the United States Coast Guard, Virginia Marine Police, Surry County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Department of Conservation and Recreation State Park Police, the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office, James City Police, Norfolk Police and the Suffolk Police departments. 

“As temperatures soared to nearly 100 degrees, officers exhibited their usual professionalism as they conducted their safety checks. Despite the extreme heat and occasional unfortunate verbal abuse from intoxicated boaters, numerous boat operators praised the officers for their efforts to keep the event safe. This year marks two consecutive years with no fatalities or serious boating-related injuries.

Officers did, however, transport an individual to the Surry Rescue Squad for ingesting water,” according to DGIF.

Three years ago, a man drowned and a woman was pulled to safety after spending the night hanging onto a piling in the river. The couple had been on their way to the Pork, Peanut and Pine Festival.

The Virginia Conservation Police deployed 13 patrol boats and 35 police officers to focus on intoxicated boaters. As a result of this effort, the officers inspected 258 vessels. The Conservation Police tested 36 individuals for alcohol and made eight OUI arrests; one reckless boat operation arrest, one reckless boat operation charge (subject blew a .07 and received a summons), two marijuana possession arrests, and issued 27 summonses for boating equipment or registration violations. There were 10 written warnings issued and numerous verbal warnings. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) Police deployed two vessels and four personnel; these officers made one OUI arrest and issued three summonses for equipment or registration violations.  {/mprestriction}