Combine the many attractions of Martha’s Vineyard, television meteorologists predicting clear, sunny weather, and July Fourth falling on a Monday, and you had all the ingredients needed for a busy, long holiday weekend. For the most part, Island police and safety officials reported large crowds but few problems.
One serious and tragic exception was a swimming accident Saturday afternoon off Chappaquidick. Michael Romm, 34, of Watertown, died after he was pulled from the water about 2 pm, on the ocean side of the Norton Point breach, on the Island’s south shore (see related story).
The weather was sunny and warm over the course of the three-day weekend. The threat of rain was just a threat and a few sprinkles Sunday evening.
Martha’s Vineyard Airport was busy but not unusually so, Sean Flynn, airport manager, told The Times. Mr. Flynn had no hard numbers on Tuesday, but he said it appeared that the general aviation side of the airport was slightly down from last year, while the commercial service side was slightly up.
The Steamship Authority (SSA) carried boatloads of passengers and vehicles. Wayne Lamson, boatline general manager, estimated passenger traffic was up three to four percent over last year.
All SSA parking lots were full Saturday. “We expected they would be,” Mr. Lamson said. That included about 1,000 vehicles in the newly added Falmouth High School lot.
The boats were nearly full, Mr. Lamson said, until late Sunday. In all, the boatline made 28 trips to the Island and 28 returns to the mainland. “It was smooth,” Mr. Lamson said. “There were no cancellations.”
Holiday crowds enjoyed the usual activities. Scores of vacationers strolled Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs with an ice cream cone in hand, and crowds lined the route of the Edgartown Fourth of July parade.
Not everyone behaved well. Tisbury police said a pair of men chased down and tackled a shoplifter who dashed out of a Vineyard Haven shop wearing flip-flops and carrying a pair of expensive shoes. Youthful egg throwers injured a passing motorist and made their escape, but Tisbury police nabbed the intoxicated driver of a water balloon attack vehicle.
In Edgartown, there were arrests for intoxicated behavior, and a stolen car was set on fire.
Island police departments provided a summary of weekend incidents.
Sheriff Michael McCormack said the Dukes County Jail processed 21 people over the holiday weekend. Eleven of those were arrests, the other 10 were people taken into protective custody. He said the level of arrests was below comparable holiday weekends. “In past years we’ve had that in a single night sometimes,” Mr. McCormack said.
Edgartown police Chief Tony Bettencourt said that but for the Norton Point death, the holiday weekend presented nothing out of the ordinary.
Prior to the parade, Chief Bettencourt asked for assistance from his up-Island counterparts in West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah for the expected large crowds that afternoon and night. On Monday, the three chiefs wore their gold braid and helped with the crowds, then they took time to march in the parade, which went off without a hitch. “We were prepared for anything,” Chief Bettencourt said, “and it turned out to be routine.”
Mr. Bettencourt said police responded to 177 calls for service, Friday through Monday. Police made seven arrests for offenses that included operating under the influence and possession of fake identification.
Police are also investigating what appears to be a stolen car and arson. At 4:40 am, Saturday morning, an officer on patrol spotted a white, Chevy van with smoke coming out of it on a side road off Herring Creek Road. The officer saw rags stuffed in the gas cap and flames inside the unoccupied vehicle.
He and another responding officer were unable to extinguish the fire and the car was soon engulfed in flames. The fire department extinguished the blaze.
According to police, the van is owned by Robert Francis Jr. of West Tisbury, owner of Island Home Furnishings, and is a work vehicle. The case is under investigation.
Oak Bluffs police reported 177 calls for service, seven arrests and three people taken into protective custody. They included a couple fornicating in public who thought the whole incident was funny until police slapped on the cuffs (see story nearby).
The weekend began quietly Friday with no arrests. At 4:33 am Saturday police responded to a report of a disturbance and arrested Joseph Lacaprucia, 23, of Oak Bluffs for assault and battery and vandalism.
Police arrested two women Sunday for drinking in public. On Monday, the Fourth, there were three arrests, two within the span of 20 minutes.
At 2:22 am police responded to 9 Ferreira Way for a report of a female assaulting men and women. Officers arrested Jennifer Tuerff, 33, of Gary, Indiana for assault and battery. At 2:37 am, officers responded to Pasque Avenue “for a couple having intercourse in the roadway.”
Police arrested Akil Henderson, 29, of Pittsburgh and Aziza Robinson, 24, of Boston for disorderly conduct and indecent exposure. Ms. Robinson was also charged with assault and battery on a police officer after she kicked the arresting officer in the face.
Citizens take action in Tisbury
Tisbury police responded to accidents and water balloon attacks.
A tourist from Norway was injured Sunday in an accident involving a car and bicycles. Police said a vehicle driven by Brianna Smith of Edgartown was entering Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road from a driveway, when three people on bicycles collided with the right side of the car.
Police said Carin Hoidahl of Oslo, Norway was injured when she went over the car and landed on the ground. She was taken by ambulance to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital for treatment. Police issued a citation to Ms. Smith for failing to yield to a bicyclist.
Police responded to a report of kids throwing eggs at cars on Edgartown Vineyard-Haven Road late Sunday night. Jeff Pribyl, 31, of New York City, was struck in the face when an egg came through an open window, and a piece of eggshell lodged in his eye, according to police. Emergency medical technicians treated him at the scene. The egg-throwers fled before police arrived.
Earlier that day at Midnight Farm, two watchful shoppers, Dan Costa, an off-duty officer from the Weston Police Department, and Mark Halloran gave chase and apprehended a man who fled the store after a customer reported him to the staff for alleged shoplifting .
Although the fleeing suspect left one of his flip-flops in front of the store, this was no Cinderella story.
Officer Kelly Kershaw responded to a call at 11:14 am from Midnight Farm, located behind Stop and Shop supermarket on Water Street. According to her report, she located Mr. Costa and Mr. Halloran at the corner of Center Street with an older man who was seated on the sidewalk, leaning against the Café Moxie building, with a shirt from Midnight Farm on the ground next to him. He was identified as Hans Van Lohuizen, age 60, of West Tisbury.
Mr. Costa identified himself as an off-duty police officer. He said he witnessed Mr. Van Lohuizen run from the store after a customer reported him as a shoplifter, as did Mr. Halloran.
“Mr. Costa witnessed a pair of shoes fall from Mr. Van Lohuizen’s person as he fled the store,” Officer Kershaw’s report said. “Mr. Costa followed Mr. Van Lohuizen and the other pursuing customer and stood by after calling police.”
Officer Kershaw called for an ambulance for Mr. Van Lohuizen, who complained of an injured ankle. The arriving emergency medical technicians also examined Mr. Halloran, who scraped his elbow during the pursuit.
Mr. Van Lohuizen was transported to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital where he was told he would be summonsed on charges of larceny over $250.
Officer Kershaw returned to the front of Midnight Farm, where she recovered a pair of black leather Hudson brand shoes and Mr. Van Lohuizen’s flip-flop.
On Monday, Tisbury Police received several complaints during the day about the occupants of a green Jeep throwing water balloons at pedestrians in Tisbury and Oak Bluffs. Police searched but were unable to find the vehicle, according to Officer Scott Ogden’s report.
Police later received a tip that the vehicle belonged to Erica Raycob, age 48, of Watertown, Connecticut, with an Island address on Greenwood Avenue Extension. The caller said that Ms. Raycob’s 15-year-old son, Dante Ventura, threw the water balloons.
Ms. Raycob was not home when Officer Ogden and Sgt. Robert Fiske visited her house. Sgt. Fiske continued to look for a green Jeep with Connecticut license plates. He found it while patrolling and stopped the vehicle on Greenwood Avenue Extension, where Officer Ogden joined him.
Ms. Raycob was the driver. Her son Dante was in the backseat, and his girlfriend was in the passenger seat. Ms. Raycob denied being in her car when water balloons were thrown, but said her son’s friend may have been the guilty party.
“I immediately noticed that Ms. Raycob had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from her mouth area when she spoke,” Officer Ogden reported.
Ms. Raycob told him she had “way too much to drink.” After failing field sobriety tests, police placed her under arrest. Sergeant Fiske also took possession of a large box of fireworks in the back of the Jeep.
Officer Ogden also spoke with Dante about the water balloons. He also placed the blame on his friend.
“I explained to Dante that if he had been caught earlier, he would have faced a felony charge of assault by means of a dangerous weapon,” Officer Ogden said.
Ms. Raycob was transported to the jail for a breathalyzer test. She was booked on charges of operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor, operating to endanger, and illegal possession of fireworks.
Tisbury Police also received complaints about fireworks over the holiday weekend, including 10 on Sunday alone.
Up-Island was busy and quiet
The weekend in West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah was busy but quiet, according to a survey of up-Island police chiefs.
Aquinnah Chief Randhi Belain said the traffic circle at the Gay Head cliffs was very busy Sunday, but overall the weekend was “incident-free.”
Chilmark police Chief Brian Cioffi described the weekend as uneventful.
West Tisbury Police Chief Dan Rossi characterized the fourth of July holiday weekend in his town as “typical.”
He said, “We had a lot of calls for service, a lot of motor vehicle traffic enforcement, a couple of OUI’s, and several noise complaints throughout the weekend. One night we put on an extra patrol to have more people on the road, because we had a lot more traffic enforcement than usual.”
Inattention on the water
Environmental Police Sergeant Matt Bass said he issued several safety violations while patrolling Island waters, and he responded to several calls. They included a call about a possible entangled turtle or fish that turned out to be an anchored buoy, and an empty personal water craft (PWC) floating offshore that nearly precipitated a search for the missing rider.
Search preparations were halted when officials learned that the PWC belonged to a large yacht, but it had broken down, and its rider hitched a ride on his partner’s Jet Ski. The stalled PWC was left to be picked up later.
One incident that led to a citation involved two college-age men tubing in Cape Poge Bay. The driver of the boat was towing his friend behind the boat and was thrown from the boat when he lost his grip on a sharp turn.
The boat began to run in circles. Luckily, both men were able to swim away from its circular route, and the boat soon ran out of gas.
Mr. Bass and harbormaster Charlie Blair responded to the call. Sergeant Bass cited the boat operator for several violations that included not carrying an observer.
Sergeant Bass said anyone towing a skier or tube must have an observer on board who is over the age of 12 and keeping watch.
Down-Island harbormasters reported a sharp increase in business during the weekend, following a disappointing spring.
“It was everything the spring wasn’t,” Oak Bluffs harbormaster Todd Alexander said. “We can’t complain. We were sold out, and the mooring field was full.”