Tuesday, June 12, 2012

CAHA: LE Week 4- B&E, Missing Persons, Trauma Victim, & Drug Possession, etc.

It is now the end of Week 4 here at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, but it is certainly the start of a busy summer season. I worked the night shift four out of the five days this week. The night shift at a beach, especially on the weekend, provides a whirl wind of adventure and experience. Each night holds something new.
Dispatch Call: Beach Fire
Friday night Mark and I were patrolling Frisco Campground when we received a phone call from dispatch saying that there was black smoke coming from a beach campfire in Frisco and the caller said the individuals were burning boogie boards and other unauthorized materials. Beach fires are permitted until 10pm at night in certain areas as long as the individuals have a fire permit, are at least 50 ft from vegetation, are only burning wood (wood cannot contain nails), and the fire is not greater than 3 feet in diameter. We found the individuals who caused the disturbance. There was no sign of boogie boards being burned, however they claimed to be unaware of the need for a fire permit, their fire was too large in diameter and too close to vegetation. The volunteer fire department also arrived on scene after hearing the call from dispatch and extinguished the fire. Feeling gracious at the moment, my supervisor gave the individuals a written warning.
Dispatch Call: Breaking & Entering in Progress
(Which led to a K-9 Unit Arrival, Revoked Registration, Possession of Drugs and Drug Paraphernalia, beach fire violation, and dog of leash)

In the middle of this, we received another call from dispatch saying there was an attempted breaking and entering in progress in a vehicle in the Frisco Campground. We immediately responded and arrived on scene within minutes. The Dare County Sheriffs department's  K-9 unit was also in the area so they responded as well. They requested that we keep people off the site so the sent of the intruder would not be contaminated. The k-9 sniffed around, traced up the strongest scent, and took off running. He finally stopped and about 5 campsites over to an occupied lot P38 which was trashed with alcohol bottles and food. It was approximately 10pm at night and the occupants were no where to be found. While on scene, we noticed a suspicious car drive by the site and so Mark and I followed the vehicle. We ran the plate and discovered the plate was revoked. The vehicle pulled over and there were two young males and one young female in the vehicle. The individuals were indeed from the campsite that the K-9 led us to. The officer from Dare County used his K-9 unit to walked the perimeter of the car and signal for drugs. 
The K-9 is trained with a passive signal, so when he picks up on drugs he sits, which is exactly what he did. The officer said the K-9's signal was a strong one and indicated that drugs were in the car now or were really, really recently in there. After searching the vehicle my supervisor and one of the sheriffs found a mason jar with 7.5 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia (rolling papers and a metal pipe used for smoking marijuana). The owner of the car was not present, but was on the beach nearby with 5 more individuals. The two Dare County officers stayed with the first three suspects while my supervisor, another NPS LE officer, and myself walked onto the beach to get the driver. Arriving on the beach we came across even more violations. The individuals had a fire without a fire permit and on an area of the beach where fires are not permitted. Additionally, they had a dog on the beach without a leash. We rounded up the individuals and brought them back.
The owner confessed that the marijuana was his own and was arrested. Additionally, we seized his licence plate and he received three tickets: his revoked registration, illegal possession of a control substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. After a long night and 3 1/2 hours of overtime, my supervisor called a 24 hour judge and we were able to release the individual right there on an unsecured bond. The following day we tested our evidence. The separation of purple over pink meant it was a positive match for THC. Mark and I recorded each piece of evidence in the evidence log and secured it into the evidence locker.
Dispatch Call- Missing Juvenile
Saturday presented a whole new set of adventures. There was a missing persons call from dispatch for a 17 year old boy who said he was going out for a walk on the beach in Avon near his rental home. He was last seen at 8:30pm and it was now dark and 10:30pm. Mark and I went covered a northern section of the beach near Avon Pier and another NPS LE searched a nearby section of the beach further South starting at ramp 38. We asked some individuals on the beach if they saw a boy matching his description and they said they were out there for hours and did not. We also notified them it was past 10pm so they needed to extinguish their fires. Moments later the other LE called us saying some people recently saw the boy on the beach further South, so we turned around and starting searching in that direction. A few minutes later we spotted the boy walking down the beach. Since it got dark faster than he thought, he said he had gotten lost and had been searching for his rental home ever since. We asked the boy if he needed any water or anything, helped him feel comfortable, and transported him back to his family, who were very relieved and grateful. 

After this, we responded to a noise complaint in Cape Point Campground and checked the nearby ramp, Ramp 44, to make sure there were no vehicles or fires on the beach. However, we came across a truck on the beach. There were two individuals fishing. My supervisor approached them and notified them that night driving on the beach was prohibited and all vehicles needed to be off the beach by 9pm. Mark then issued the driver a ticket for driving during prohibited hours since it was 2 1/2 hours past the time cars were no longer allowed on the beach. Night beach driving is a big deal here at Cape Hatteras because of the disturbance it causes the endangered sea turtles. The sea turtles are federally listed as endangered species to be protected. Sea turtles crawl up the beaches at night to dig a nest and lay their eggs. Artificial lights scare away the female sea turtle and she will turn away and crawl back out into the ocean if she is scared and no longer finds the area to be suitable for her nest. Protecting the sea turtle's natural nesting activities, as well as their nests, is crucial to the survival of the species. Approximately 1 in 1000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood. The percentage is even less for the eggs in general. It is the goal of the National Park Service to preserve and protect the natural habitat of the area.

Dispatch Call: Missing Person

Sunday Mark and I had another missing persons call. However, this one was completely different from the last. The person who called 911 found a little 3 year old girl left alone on the beach at approximately 9:30pm. The caller said he witnessed the father of the child tell the child to "follow the lights and you'll get home." Then the father walked away. The caller yelled for the father, caught up to him and spoke with him. He asked the man if he had a daughter and the man confusingly said yes then said no, but at one point said his daughter's name. In the end, the father walked over into the dunes of the beach and left his 3 year old daughter with these strangers. Moments later the mother and grandfather were on a search for both the husband and daughter and shockingly found her daughter alone on the beach at night with these strangers. The mother said both her daughter and husband were supposed to be in bed but she noticed they were missing then found the front door of her rental home left wide open. The daughter was safe, but the husband was still no where to be found.

Facts surrounding the husband up until this point:

- 30 years old
- Successful attorney with cases going successfully and smoothly for him
- Just purchased a home
- Loves his daughter more than anything & would never leave her alone
- No drug or alcohol use
- Lack of sleep (worked a few 20 hour shifts in a row before going to vacation. First day at the beach. Could not sleep the night before he drove. Drove 12 hours from NY)
- Has chronic Lyme's Disease (taking antibiotics)
- Was acting slightly paranoid at dinner but family thought it was due to lack of sleep.

Mark, the mother, and took our flashlights and searched in and out of those dunes in the beach where the husband was last spotted. Half of the Hatteras Island Rescue squad went to the family's rental home and the other half of Hatteras Island's Rescue Squad met up with us on the beach. However, about an hour into the search and as soon as they arrived, we received a phone call saying the husband just walked into the front door of their rental home. Relieved he was alive and safe, we transported the mother back to the home. When we arrived the ambulance was there checking him out. As questions were being asked, we found out the husband took his daughter from her bed and left because he thought the house was caving in on them (there were people exercising on the floor above them). However, the father could not answer the question as to why he left his daughter on the beach and walked away. He was so confused and slowly began to realize that there was something wrong with him. The family was so baffled by all of this and could not explain his irrational behavior either. They kept stressing that he was not on any type of drugs and all his behavior was completely out of character and abnormal. He was transported to the hospital for further analysis.

Dispatch Call: Trauma Victim

Monday, Mark and I were patrolling when a call came over for a trauma victim at Avon Pier. We ran code down the road and got on the beach at Avon Pier. As soon as we arrived we saw a 15 year old boy laying still on the beach. The boy was hit in his head by his boogie board when a wave crashed. The power of the wave caused the boogie board to knock him unconscious. He was pulled out of the water by his friends and guardians at the time. The Hatteras Island Rescue squad and their ambulance arrived on scene, checked the boy's vitals and other symptoms, then transported him to the hospital for further analysis because his head injury was severe.

Dispatch Call: Medical in the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Literally as soon as we finished with the trauma victim and before we even got back into our vehicles from the incident, we were called for a medical in the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse about 10 minutes down the road. the whole crew at the Avon Pier incident drove down to now answer this call. There was a young boy at the fourth landing inside the lighthouse who was dizzy, lightheaded, woozy, and displaying further signs of distress. An interp ranger helped him sit down and called in the medical. The boy was putt on the oxygen tank and assisted out of the lighthouse on a stokes basket. He was such a strong little trooper. He was transported with his parents' to the hospital for further analysis.

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