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Yulee man sentenced, fined in felony dumping of derelict vessel

BuzzDerelictVessel01DerelictVessel02_R_WaltGossettSandhillRecyclingImage 2: This boat was dumped in the water at a Yulee boat ramp; Image 3: By the time the derelict vessel was removed, it was coated with mud.

A Yulee man was sentenced to 60 days in jail and one year of probation as well as fined $1,965 for illegally dumping a derelict vessel in Nassau County.

Daniel Ray Thomas (DOB 07/02/85) was charged with third-degree felony dumping in May after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) received a call from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office that a boat had been dumped in the water at Wilson Neck Boat Ramp in Yulee.

FWC Officer Tim Shearer responded to the complaint and saw the 1968 15-foot Thunderbird pleasure craft on a mud bank with the bow beginning to sink. The Florida registration was still visible.

“I wasn’t able to contact the owner to determine if the registration had been transferred. However, I did have a witness who saw the boat being dumped by the suspect,” Shearer said. “Thomas had left town, but the fact that he set the vessel adrift in the water and never registered it in his name gave probable cause that he intended to abandon it.”

Shearer met with the state attorney and filed charges against Thomas for illegal dumping in excess of 500 pounds, which is a third-degree felony.

Thomas was later arrested on the warrant and pleaded guilty to dumping the vessel. He was ordered to pay for the costs of removing the boat from the water.

“This is a prime example of what it can cost people who dump vessels that they no longer want,” said Capt. Richard Moore of the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section.

“Abandoned and derelict vessels can pose safety and navigational hazards as well as become eyesores in Florida’s beautiful waterways,” Moore said.

The FWC has an at-risk vessel program to educate people who leave vessels on Florida’s waterways in a condition that may lead them to become derelict.

The FWC hopes this program will reduce the derelict vessel problem in the state by engaging boat owners in conversations about proper care and maintenance, requirements for vessel lighting and laws about title transfer. Someone may transfer a boat to someone else who may allow it to deteriorate. Without a proper title transfer, the original owner is still responsible.