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WEEKEND #03, 2011

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware


Dewin' It Right campaign improving in popularity

Imagine visiting Dewey Beach during a lovely summer evening but being banned from the town's best known establishments?

It seemed like nightlife as usual this past week as Dewey visitors enjoyed their bar-hopping experience. But as adults elbowed their way through crowds, spilling onto Coast Highway, it became evident that the town is packed with recent high school grads, perhaps thousands of them. The teens have limited choices when it comes to visiting Dewey's popular nightspots.

Delaware high school graduates were in town this past week in mass. It was the second of three weeks that the high school grads, known as June bugs, head to the beach.

This time of the year, rowdy crowds of teens congregate, even on back streets, pack rented beach cottages beyond capacity, and pride themselves on their binge-drinking abilities.

Fist fights -- between grads from rival schools or among mutual combatants within a school -- occur with little warning as teens co-mingle in the streets in search of entertainment. In many cases, the fighters scatter when they hear police coming. But sometimes they get caught.

Delaware Division of Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement agents working the bars, spot-checking IDs, nabbed this man who stopped to punch another guy who was sitting in a car along Coastal Highway Wednesday night. The agents cuffed and stuffed him into the back of a Dewey police van.

Using a notebook computer, they "book" him and issue a summons on the spot before unlocking the handcuffs and setting him free. Since he had been caught by state agents, he was charged under Delaware code. Had he been booked on a town charge, he would have faced a $287 fine.

Kelly Ranieri of the Dewey Beach Marketing Committee and Dewey Beach Police Sgt. Clifford Dempsey were among those June-bug watching this past week. Ranieri, a school teacher, launched the Dewin’ It Right campaign. Sgt. Dempsey is the police liaison.

Perhaps it is ironic that what draws the teens to the famous seaside resort is what they cannot legally access. Realizing the dilemma, that underage visitors have had limited nightlife opportunities in Dewey Beach, Ranieri says the committee looked for ideas.

This was the second season the town has its Dewin’ It Right campaign aimed at educating and entertaining visiting June bugs. The town and participating businesses have coordinated free events, prizes and discounts targeting the teens.

Here is this 2011 Dewin’ It Right brochure and an article written by Rob Kunzig when the campaign started last season. Ranieri says it is similar to Ocean City’s Play It Safe program which is now in its 22nd year.

She says June bug participation increased this year, noting that the pizza-eating contest had four times the number of participants than last year.

Offerings this year also included a wing-eating contest, stand-up paddle boarding and a trademark Dewey Beach bonfire with live deejay.

Ranieri and Sgt. Dempsey kept watch over Thursday's bonfire which they say had increased attendance this year as well.

The June bug educational efforts do not stop with Dewin’ It Right. The Dewey Beach police have been proactive reaching out to prospective June bugs and their parents for several years.

Sgt. Dempsey says he visited some of the most common Montgomery County, Md. and upstate Delaware high schools whose grads frequent the town. This includes Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Walter Johnson, Walt Whitman, Thomas S. Wootton and four Wilmington high schools.

He typically addresses the parents and students together, then the students separately, so they can ask questions they do not want parents to hear.

Sgt. Dempsey says he will often single out a student and tell him "Every year I arrest a kid who looks like you." He shares the worst things he has seen in his 11 years on the town's police force -- injuries, overdoses, rapes and teens who ruin their future because of a stupid arrest.

"That could be your kid" he says he tells the parents. "It changes their minds," he adds.

For the seniors, Sgt. Dempsey says he will ask them what they would do if they found one of their underage friends "vomiting and defecating on himself." He says he is obviously suffering from an overdose, but asks the teens what they should do. Do nothing, he warns, and their friend could die. But would they call for help and risk arrest?

Many of these problems are because of alcohol. Sgt. Dempsey estimates that police confiscate about 15 to 20 30-packs of beer every night this time of year, along with other alcohol... and he says it all goes in the trash or recycling bins.

Police responded to a usually quiet neighborhood on Carolina Street this past week. That is where they found these teens. Several scattered as police arrived. Alcohol was confiscated. Those who were not on the lease were sent on their way. Officers warned them what would happen if police were called to return.

About 45 minutes later, Dewey Beach police busted another underage party at the Van Dyke Villas. They seized eight 30-packs of beer which the grads helped officers carry to a waiting police van.

Despite the large number of June bugs, which Sgt. Dempsey guesstimates at 5000, he says the June bugs this year have been better behaved. He says police have had fewer June bug-related felonies and fewer June bug-related medical emergencies.

But it is not quite over yet. Next week, the Maryland and Pennsylvania schools are expected to flock to the beach, although not in as large numbers as the town has seen during the previous two weeks.



Delaware State Police are investigating a critical pedestrian hit & run that was reported around 4:25 a.m. Saturday in West Rehoboth.

A man, believed to be in his 30's or 40's, was struck by a vehicle on Norwood Street, near the Deliverance Church of the Apostolic Faith. EMS personnel wanted to fly him to a trauma center, but the state police helicopter was not flying because of dense fog.

The man reportedly was bleeding from the ears, but still breathing when he was taken by ambulance to Beebe Hospital.

Later in the day, police broadcast a lookout for a 2000 Chevy Suburban with unknown Delaware tag, chrome wheels and black primer on its side.



Late Friday afternoon, MERR Institute responded to a stranded sea turtle in the Delaware Seashore State Park in the area of Key Box Road, south of Dewey. Gregg Rosner, a MERR rescuer, came to the turtle's aid.

Suzanne Thurman, MERR Institute executive director, says the turtle is a Kemp's Ridley, one of the most endangered sea turtles. She said the turtle's condition was "touch and go" through the night into Saturday, but the turtle was still clinging to life.

The sub-adult had no obvious injury. She says assuming the turtle survives, they will take it to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach.

Of all the sea creatures the organization assists, MERR has had the best success with sea turtles. Thurman says the turtles have slow metabolism which can aid in their recovery but also make them appear more lethargic.

MERR had a busy week. She noted that they investigated three baby dolphin deaths and a loggerhead sea turtle which appeared to have been killed by a dredge.


Woman owed city more than $500 in unpaid fines

Rehoboth Beach parking enforcers had already called for a tow after they spotted this Saturn parked in front of the Breakers Hotel around 1 p.m. Monday. It had more than enough in accumulated fines to warrant towing and was one of the first such finds this season.

The owner owed the city $510 in unpaid fines. While waiting for the tow truck to arrive, a woman returned to claim the car. Parking enforcement personnel remained with the car until she paid her debts.



Three people were injured in this crash on Coastal Highway at 70th Street in Ocean City around 11 a.m. Sunday. Two cars had collided but nobody was trapped.

Photos by Christopher Casale, Breaking News Network




One of Rehoboth Beach's best known dining establishments, Nicola Pizza, celebrated its 40th anniversary on Saturday.

The party featured giveaways, drawings, great pizza (of course) and WGMD radio celebrity Dan Gaffney who interviewed Joan Caggiano live on the radio about the restaurant's history and success.

Gaffney's old friend and neighbor, Bill Earl, played tunes for the crowd.










MAN LAPSES INTO CARDIAC ARREST IN SURF--- A man from Texas was in the ocean with family Sunday afternoon when he struck his head and was pulled to shore by lifeguards.

It happened in front of Sea Colony's Farragut House around 3 p.m. When the guards had him on the beach, they found him without a pulse. They shocked him once with an automated external defibrillator and performed CPR. When paramedics took the man to Beebe Hospital, he was without any cardiac activity. But they continued CPR.

Robby Murray, Sussex County EMS spokesman, said the hospital personnel were able to revive the man late Sunday afternoon, but he remains "very unstable." They were considering flying him to another facility if his condition allowed. He is approximately 60 years old. They do not know what caused him to go into cardiac arrest.


TEEN FLOWN TO HOPKINS WITH SERIOUS BURNS FROM "BLOWING SHOTS"--- A 19-year-old male suffered serious burns to his face, mouth and throat after "doing shots" with fire the previous night. He arrived by private transportation at the Millville Medical Center just before 11 a.m. Sunday. He was experiencing shortness of breath. The state police helicopter flew him to Baltimore. Check this link for a Youtube video that shows a man blowing a shot.


2 MORE COMMERCIAL BURGLARIES REPORTED ON REHO AVE--- Three burglaries have been reported between a pair of stores in the ocean block of Rehoboth Avenue since Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. One of the shopkeepers called police twice this past week -- once on Thursday and again on Saturday. Money was reportedly taken during one of the over-night burglaries.


SEASONAL OFFICER TAKEN TO HOSPITAL--- Rehoboth Beach police had stopped two couples for underage drinking on the beach at Philadelphia Street around 4:10 a.m. Friday. One of the seasonal officers investigating fainted. He was taken to Beebe Hospital by ambulance and later released.


REHOBOTH POLICE NAB SCOOTER THIEVES--- Perhaps they thought they had gotten away with the theft of three Razor scooters. But as the suspects scooted by the Rehoboth Beach library around 1:50 a.m. Saturday, a police officer on patrol noticed the scooters. Officers had taken a report around 9:25 p.m. for several males who had stolen the scooters in the area of Funland. The owner of the Razor scooters later identified the scooters as his. All three males, described as juveniles, were arrested.


POLICE ARREST INJURED INTOXICATED MAN AFTER BREAKING GLASS--- Rehoboth Beach police received a complaint around 12:15 a.m. Sunday of glass breaking in an adjacent room at the Summer Place Hotel on Olive Avenue. After several minutes of investigating, officers arrested a 24-year-old intoxicated man who had a two-inch cut to his arm. He was taken to Beebe Hospital in police custody.


O.C. EARLY MORNING FIRE ALARMS--- The only early alarm this weekend was at the Flagship Oceanfront Hotel on 26th Street. The hotel was in the process of being evacuated when firefighters arrived around 2:25 a.m. Saturday. The source of the alarm was reported to be a malicious discharge of a fire extinguisher in the hallway. The particles from the extinguisher activated a smoke detector and the alarm system.


INDIAN RIVER BAY WATER INCIDENT--- A kayaker was reported to be in distress off Calcutta Cove in the area of Indian River Acres around 5 p.m. Sunday. Millville firefighters, DNREC and the state police helicopter responded. About 20 minutes later, the kayaker was found being taken to shore by somebody riding a personal watercraft.



Man charged with attempted murder after hit & run (O.C., Thursday)

Man dies after boat capsizes at OC Inlet (Saturday morning)

House fire behind Midway Shopping Center (Lewes, Saturday morning)

Route 50 traffic to OC halted by stuck bridge (Saturday evening)

Two plead guilty after fatal Memorial Day weekend jet-ski crash

Additional police help crime drop in Dewey over Memorial Day Weekend

Scrutiny rises with fake ID use

Yard waste ban still causing strife

Memorial Day success sets positive tone in resorts

Enforcement prompts debate in Rehoboth


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