July 4 weekend was fun and frolicsome; crimes and calamities were few


With the official July 4 holiday on Sunday and a day off on Monday, many Islanders and visitors enjoyed three days of sizzling hot weather made for beach-going, parade-watching, and fireworks-bedazzlement.

Up until Monday afternoon, when a tragic accident involving a bicyclist killed by a truck occurred in Tisbury, Island police departments had reported that the holiday weekend was busy, but calls were mostly routine.

In Edgartown, where the biggest crowds gathered for July 4 events, police officer Stephanie Immelt said, “Overall, it was quieter than normal, and the parade and fireworks were uneventful and went very smoothly.”

At 8:30 pm, as an unexpected prelude to the fireworks, a power outage around Pease Point darkened the homes of 174 customers for an hour and 20 minutes. NSTAR spokesman Mike Durand said a fuse blew on a pole on Pease Point Road and the equipment holding it on the pole had to be replaced.

Officer Immelt said Edgartown police did make one arrest on Sunday. According to the police report, Alexandra Ulrika Budd of Montclair, NJ, was arrested after her car struck a patrol vehicle parked on North Water Street, at around 12:23 am and kept driving until police stopped her on Morse Street. After failing field sobriety tests, she was charged with OUI-alcohol, negligent operation of a vehicle, leaving the scene of property damage, and failure to stop for police.

“Outside of that, we had a great deal of medical calls, about 16,” Officer Immelt said. “From Friday until Monday morning at 8 am, we responded to 120 documented calls. And of course, we always have a number of noise complaints — we had 13.”

On Monday, the Oak Bluffs police and fire departments responded to a two-car motor vehicle crash at the intersection of the Vineyard Haven-Edgartown Road and County Road. The crash occurred at 1:50 pm when a Ford truck driven by Steven Swartwood, 48, of Tisbury rear-ended a Toyota Camry that had slowed to allow a car to turn.

The Toyota’s occupants, Barbara Bailey, 70, of Newton, her son Benjamin, 36, and two of her grandchildren, each three years old, were transported to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital by ambulance and released a short time later, according to Oak Bluffs police.

“This incident demonstrates the importance of wearing a seat belt,” Officer James Morse said. “The injuries in this crash would have been much worse if the occupants in the Camry were not belted in.”

Mr. Swartwood was arrested at the scene and charged with operating under the influence, second offense, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle after he failed a series of roadside sobriety tests, according to the Oak Bluffs police.

Aquinnah police chief Randhi Belain said that, other than some motor vehicle stops, the holiday weekend was quiet. There were a few minor fender-bender motor vehicle accidents in Tisbury, according to that town’s police chief Dan Hanavan.

The police scanner in The Times office crackled throughout the long weekend, though, as EMS personnel responded to one call after another.

The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital reported a very busy Fourth of July weekend. Carol Bardwell, chief nurse, said all in-patient hospital beds were full and the Emergency Department handled a steady stream of patients. On Monday, July 5 the ER treated 96 people, she said.

The Steamship Authority had no firm numbers for the holiday weekend when reached by The Times but treasurer Bob Davis provided some preliminary figures.

He said preliminary numbers indicate an approximate 5 percent increase in passenger traffic to Martha’s Vineyard over the same days in 2009.

“Parking lot numbers will also show that all the lots filled up quickly and stayed full through the weekend,” Mr. Davis said in an email. “Unfortunately, at various points we had to turn away customers wanting to park as the lots were at capacity. As spaces freed up the lots would reopen.”

Mr. Davis said vehicle space cancellations were quickly sold “and the crews and terminal personnel did a great job loading the boats and keeping on schedule.”

At Martha’s Vineyard Airport, manager Sean Flynn said, “We were up almost 16 percent higher on fuel sales, and slightly up on the traffic, although I don’t have exact numbers on that yet.”

The holiday weekend was business as usual, unlike the previous Monday, June 28, when a pilot in a private plane landed with his landing gear up.

“It’s not a good thing when that happens, but airplanes are actually made to do that,” Mr. Flynn explained. “Everybody walked away. There was a four-hour runway closure while we jacked the plane up and got the gear back underneath it, and there were some delays and cancellations on commercial flights because of that.”

Mr. Flynn said he did not have to add staff for the holiday weekend, because the airport schedules enough people to handle that level of operation in summertime at any time. “You work a little bit harder, and it was definitely hotter, but all in all, it’s the same level of staff,” he said.

Vineyard Haven Stop and Shop store manager Sam Koohy said his business was “absolutely phenomenal.” Despite the soaring temperatures, Mr. Koohy said he maintained a supply of ice cream, along with other hot-weather essentials. “We had about five trucks a day coming at us, so we were in good shape the whole holiday weekend,” Mr. Koohy said.

At the Mansion House Inn on Tisbury’s Main Street, co-owner Susan Goldstein said that Zephrus Restaurant “had a banner weekend.”

“I think people were happy to sit inside and get a good meal, because it was too hot to cook at home, so we had a lovely holiday,” she said. “A little confusion resulted for people who weren’t sure whether we already had our beer and wine license or didn’t, but everyone was very good-humored and happy about it.”

One difference, Ms. Goldstein said she has noticed so far this season, is that more people are waiting until the last minute to make reservations.

“Unlike past years where people planned far in advance, this year we were happy to accommodate a few last minute requests,” Ms. Goldstein said.