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WEEKEND #09, 2015

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware




It all started late Saturday morning in Rehoboth Beach when a couple made a hasty departure from Hotel Rehoboth. While checking out of the hotel, they left a handwritten note in the lobby making reference to the kidnapping of their son, paying a ransom, Walmart and a cell phone number.

After responding to the hotel, Rehoboth Beach police struggled to make sense of what had taken place. Rehoboth's Sgt. Scott O'Bier along with state police headed to the Walmart outside town. They knew they were looking for a dark color Mercedes with Maryland tags occupied by a man and woman. But what happened?

As police searched the area, they had received a report from Walmart that a couple had already come in and left a similar note while sending a MoneyGram. The couple implied that they were on speaker phone with a Porto Rico gang that was supposedly holding their son at gunpoint. The couple was instructed to continue to the Walmart in Cockeysville, Maryland by 3 p.m. with $500 or they would kill him.

Police agencies began tracking the couple's movements as they were handed off from cell tower to cell tower. Supposedly the kidnappers demanded that both of them remain constantly on the cell phone with the speaker phone enabled at all times. They were not to contact or attempt to call for help.

Eventually the track approached Milford and one police officer finally was able to locate the Mercedes and get it to stop. The woman slipped out of the car just long enough to let the trooper know what happened. She said they had to get to the Cockeysville Walmart by 3 p.m. or else. With several state troopers following their car, the couple headed north to make the trip back to Baltimore County on I-95.

At times, they reached speeds in excess of 80 m.p.h. and the couple even drove on the shoulders trying to pass slow traffic. When Delaware officials contacted Baltimore County to warn them what had happened, they learned that this was likely a scam as they had already investigated other similar cases.

Police later reached the couple's son and had him call his parents as they headed to Baltimore County and warn them that this was indeed a scam.

This scam, referred to as a virtual abduction, has been occurring throughout the country, says Lt. William Sullivan. "It's very unfortunate that there are those types of individuals who would prey on parents' fears in order to make money," he added, "very sad indeed."


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2 RBP lifeguard stands still have yet to be recovered

"We have multiple persons of interest, they are local and Det. Whitman will be conducting interviews this week," says Lt. William L. Sullivan. "We hope to make arrests in the case very soon," he added.

Two of the RBP lifeguard stands have yet to be recovered. Lt. Sullivan said a fifth stand was recovered on Friday off Assateague Island.

A former RBP lieutenant, who asked not to be identified, says setting stands adrift has been an ongoing prank for many years. "In my last two years [with RBP], setting the stands adrift was an inside job/prank taking place as part of 'section wars,'" he explains. The Rehoboth Beach Patrol is divided into four sections, with roughly five stands each. They are the Deauville, Olive, Rehoboth and Hickman sections. "Rather than a friendly athletic and lifesaving competition amongst the sections, the RBP section competition turned into a bunch of alcohol-fueled pranks that took place before and after hours," he states, noting that he recalls getting down to the Deauville section one morning to find that all of its stands had been set adrift in retribution for their own pranks on another section.

However, what sets apart this recent incident is that seven lifeguard stands disappeared. That included not only all of Hickman section but others from the Rehoboth section, which makes it more difficult to conclude that this was an obvious 'section hit,' although possible.

Here is one of the chairs that Bill Anderson said they spotted on the previous Sunday morning a couple miles off Fenwick Island. As many boaters did, they passed the coordinates to the Coast Guard. Coast Guard vessels have recovered at least two of the five stands. The Coast Guard issued this news release last Monday concerning the recoveries.

Photo courtesy Bill Anderson

Capt. Mark Sampson shares this photo of Luke Sampson (his first mate and nephew) on his 40-foot charter boat, the "Fish Finder." Capt. Mark says he actually spotted two lifeguard chairs last weekend. This one was about five miles east of 100th Street. It took four crew members to pull this chair onboard. He said they used rope over the legs to help lift it from the water. He has had experience hauling similar large items, noting a cage he once carried to protect divers from sharks. See his Big Sharks website for related details.

Photo courtesy Mark Sampson


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For the second time this summer, protesters -- wearing mostly red T-shirts -- have descended on city hall prior to a commissioner meeting. Around 6:20 p.m., about 46 protesters gathered outside city hall along with three seasonal police officers. Forty traffic cones lined the sidewalk in front and along side city hall.

The topic of concern this past Friday was the public hearing on and consideration of two proposed ordinances amending the city code related to requirements for natural area, floor area ratio, lot coverage, rear yards and accessory buildings and requirements for off-street parking for residential units.

Protesters expressed concern that these proposals would place an unfair burden on property owners, particularly those who might use or build large homes for rentals. The number of toilets in a home could be used to determine requirements, hence the props.

There were no counter protesters as such. However, the other camp has started this change.org petition seeking signatures in opposition to what they see as a pro-real-estate-agent-driven rally.

Earlier in the day, a related banner plane ad promoted the Sussex County Association of Realtors website.

The city commissioners did in fact approve zoning changes Friday. These News Journal and Cape Gazette articles explain in detail.


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Police, nurse credited with performing CPR on victim, possibly saving his life

Dewey Beach police spent the early hours of Friday investigating a suspected fall down steps at Izzy Plaza on Coastal Highway at Saulsbury Street. The fall left a 45-year-old Bethesda, Maryland man in critical condition.

The call for help came around 1:13 a.m. Officials arriving on the scene discovered the man at the base of the outside staircase adjacent to the Starboard shop. Police taped off a section of the building with crime-scene tape while it was under investigation.

Police officers and a nurse performed CPR on the man and deployed an AED (defibrillator) minutes before an ambulance and Sussex County paramedics arrived. Initial reports suggested the victim was in cardiac arrest although he regained a pulse while being taken to Beebe Hospital. The man was later flown to Christiana Hospital.

Police interviewed witnesses trying to determine what happened. Police say this does not appear to be suspicious.


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Several people became sick while in the swimming pool at the Sea Air Manufactured Home & RV Resort outside Rehoboth, triggering a significant fire/hazmat and EMS response.

It was reported around 2 p.m. Saturday. Eric Huovinen, Sussex County EMS spokesman, says seven people were taken to Beebe Hospital with upper respiratory irritation. All were minor injuries, mostly coughing and wheezing, he said. Several other potential patients declined an ambulance. Initial reports suggest the pool had too much chlorine. A DNREC hazmat crew was called to investigate.


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John Lock is an accomplished West Point grad with more than 20 years of active duty experience who shares his life experiences through his blog.

"While I write stories from time to time to highlight personal experiences (US Army Ranger School, Bosnia, 9/11 Ground Zero, Saudi Arabia)," Lock writes, "I essentially wrote this story for my family and friends, to highlight my personal stupidity in an effort to ensure none of them ever attempt to 'follow in my neck brace.'"

Lock is referring to the accident he had exactly a year ago yesterday, in the Rehoboth Beach surf. Here is the article from 2014.

So rarely do we ever hear again from people who suffer such serious injuries. But Lock is sharing his experience of the accident and his recovery through his thoughtfully written blog post, Facing One's Mortality When Least Expected.



As far as sinkholes go in Rehoboth, this one was on the low-end of the scale. It was reported around 11:30 a.m. this past Thursday in front of the One Virginia Avenue Condo. Rehoboth Beach public works crews were quick to address the problem.


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Sussex Cyclists joined DelDOT Bicycle Program and Delaware State Police educating bicyclists, installing front and rear lights and providing helmets, reflector tape, and bike maps this past week. Here they were on Coastal Highway in the area of the Nike Outlet store.

Tony Pezone from Sussex Cyclists emphasizes that lights and helmets are only given to people who come on bike.

The remaining checkpoints for the summer are:

Tue., July 21, Bethany Beach, from 8 to 11 a.m.
Fri., July 24, Rehoboth Nike Outlet, from 8 to 11 a.m.
Mon., Aug. 3, Bethany Beach, from 8 to 11 a.m.


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But whales spotted Sunday off Delaware coast

Between 9 and 11 a.m. this past Saturday, Duane Hansen and Jon Plowman, below, participated in the annual dolphin count. They reported two dolphin sightings. That included two adults and one smaller dolphin in the first sighting and just one more dolphin later in the morning.

Here they were off Queen Street in Rehoboth Beach. Plowman, captain of the Kindred Spirit Sailing Charters, described the day as "beautiful and calm," despite the few number of sightings. Their wives, Nancy Hansen and Mari Plowman, were also participating.

Suzanne Thurman, MERR Institute executive director, said Sunday the dolphin spotters reported low numbers which could suggest that fish were feeding farther off shore.

In other news, MERR investigated a dead loggerhead sea turtle this past week. Thurman said it appears to have been killed by a boat propeller. It was found at Broadkill.

Thurman noted that a Right whale had been sighted off Fenwick on Sunday. Also, beach visitors in Dewey and Rehoboth reported seeing two to three whales just before noon on Sunday.


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by Dagmar Kirchner Henney

When he was a little boy, Jack Wiberg's mother gave him a piece of paper and a pencil to keep him occupied. He started slowly drawing, and drawing continuously. After working a day job, he worked in the evening for fun. He continued drawing and started painting.

His wife preferred that he paint in watercolor but his real love is oil painting.

Wiberg's work is so appropriate here, not only because he is of Swedish origin, but because of the nautical scenes he paints, ships and seascapes. He paints ships according to what he learns studying naval records.

In the center between our heads is his "Moonlight Farewell," an oil on canvas work of a clipper ship leaving the Delaware Bay on a perfect moonlight night. In addition to white, only two colors are used in this painting, Viridian green and Alizarin crimson. This enchanting painting with incredible depth you have to see yourself to appreciate the perspective.

He considers his work representational in that it looks realistic. He does not paint every rope, but because it looks so realistic, one thinks the detail is there.

This is his oil painting of the HMS. DeBraak in 1798 leading a convoy to America. This fateful voyage ended with the convoy of ships successfully reaching their destination. The DeBraak, however, sank off Lewes caught in a violent storm.

He's been in Rehoboth since 2009 and joins four other galleries at 20 Baltimore Avenue. More info is available on the Galleries at 20 Baltimore Avenue website.



David Koster found this beetle wandering around his wooded backyard in Rehoboth. He has identified it as the Eastern Hercules Beetle.

Photo courtesy David Koster, Portraits in the Sand.com



TWO MEN REMOVED FROM SURF IN CARDIAC ARREST LAST MONDAY--- In less than a 40-minute period last Monday morning, two men were pulled from the surf in cardiac arrest in seemingly unrelated incidents. The incidents took place north of the Bethany Beach town limits less than three miles apart. In the first incident, Robbie Murray, Sussex County EMS spokesman, says a 60-year-old man had been calling out for help while in the ocean off Surf Road in Sussex Shores around 10:45 a.m. When he was pulled from the water, he was found to be in cardiac arrest. He was taken to Beebe Hospital. About 35 minutes later, less than three miles north, rescuers responded for another man who was found at the surf near North Cotton Way in Cotton Patch Hills. He is described as a 69 year old and was in cardiac arrest when taken to Beebe Hospital. Murray says the man was with his grandchild when he collapsed at the surf.


4 PARKING RAGE INCIDENTS--- Rehoboth Beach police were called to at least four cases this past weekend of disputes over parking spaces. In most cases, one or both parties were gone when police arrived. They included one Saturday at 2:20 p.m. near the Henlopen for a person standing in a parking space trying to save it for a friend. There were three others on Sunday, one at 12:40 p.m. in the ocean block of Delaware Avenue, followed by another in the ocean block of Rehoboth Avenue around 1:30 p.m. and the third at 8:10 p.m., also in the ocean block of Rehoboth Avenue.



Insider's guide to America's top 10 beach boardwalks

Milton's mayor (administrative assistant for Rehoboth Beach Police Chief) reigns as homemade ice cream champion

Kitchen fire in Capriottis sub shop, Lewes (12:25 a.m., Sunday)

Delaware State Police Troop 7 getting new HQ

New Troop 7 complex to be built near Lewes

Bikers to ride safer on new Lewes-Rehoboth trail

New portion of Junction & Breakwater Trail completed

Customer robbed at Walmart outside Rehoboth

HAWK (Coastal Hwy crosswalk signaling) system ready to fly

Rehoboth Police seek identity of suspect in wallet and credit card theft

Lawsuit aims to quash Rehoboth votes on outfall, City Hall

Dewey council debates town manager's, attorney's tenure

Dune fencing goes up in Dewey

Selbyville water woes

Selbyville house fire causes $300,000 in damage (8:30 p.m., Thursday)

Georgetown agency offering free air conditioners

O.C. City Manager maintains policies followed after accident

O.C. City Manager maintains he followed appropriate policies after accident

Undercover narcotics investigations successful in O.C.

Crime down in June in Ocean City

Neighbors hold rally on behalf of ousted Pocomoke PD Chief Kelvin Sewell

Seven rehabbed turtles released on Assateague



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