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WEEKEND #12, 2009

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Story and Photo by Walt Palmer

It was a heartbreaking and frustrating weekend for volunteers who struggled to save a minke whale found stranded on the point in the Cape Henlopen State Park early Saturday. The approximately 20-year-old, 22-foot-long female apparently beached herself overnight and was discovered by a park ranger around 7 a.m.

Volunteers from the Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute (MERR) attempted to float the whale back to deeper water four times during high tide. But each time she returned to the beach.

Because of the sandbars around Cape Henlopen, getting a boat in there that's big enough to tow a 12,000-pound live load is not possible.

As the tide receded, it left the whale more than 50 yards from any floatable depth of water. Because of her size, weight and placement of lungs, it became more difficult for her to breathe on her own. She is capable of taking a breath about once every three minutes under normal conditions.

As she stressed, the breaths became more labored and at longer intervals. It was the decision of the veterinarian, and MERR advisors that she would not survive waiting for another tide to float her. So the whale was euthanized and died Saturday evening.

The remains were taken to the University of Delaware-Lewes Campus late Sunday afternoon after a necropsy was concluded.

Another whale was found dead a few days before Memorial Day Weekend in the Delaware Seashore State Park.

MERR is in need of volunteers with various skills: lawyers, accountants, marine biologists, and those such as nurses, doctors and others who are not squeamish in performing medical procedures. Other talents such as crowd control, knife and instrument sharpening, transportation of large and small sea creatures up and down the East Coast, local observers, photographers, heavy-equipment operators, transcriptionists, or laborers are appreciated. The ability to work on call, at odd hours, outside in all weather is a must. For more details, please see the MERR Website.


It's embarrassing enough to get caught drunk driving, but it's even worse if it's your own car that reports you to police.

I just "received a call from an OnStar-type system saying there was a gray BMW 550 that was just alerted for an accident" said the Rehoboth Beach police dispatcher early Saturday.

The service said the car was reporting a crash at 1st Street and Brooklyn Avenue, and that's exactly where police found the BMW around 12:45 a.m.

The BMW had sideswiped a Mercedes parked on 1st Street north of Brooklyn Avenue (below). The BMW's airbags deployed and the car came to a stop in the middle of the roadway south of Brooklyn Avenue with the stereo still playing (above). The man in the photo was the passenger. He's trying to turn off the car's stereo.

Police administered a field test to the driver, placed him in custody and took him to Beebe Hospital for a blood test. Blue Hen Towing was requested to remove both vehicles.


A Rehoboth Beach ticket writer discovered this Lincoln Towncar parked in the loading zone on Baltimore Avenue around 2:20 p.m. Friday. After checking with the Parking Meter Division, they determined the owner had accumulated $430 in fines. So they called for Coastal Towing to have it removed to the city's impound.

About 15 minutes later, Rehoboth Beach police received a call reporting that a Lincoln Towncar had been stolen from a driveway on Olive Avenue. The man claimed he noticed it missing about five or 10 minutes earlier.

Officials investigating the incident sounded skeptical, and speculated that the man was reporting the car stolen because the parking meter division discovered he owed the city $430 in unpaid fines. The city typically tows vehicles which have accumulated fines of at least $150 which are left unpaid for 30 days or more.

The car remains in the city's impound lot as of Sunday evening.


Lifeguards reporting to duty on Saturday discovered that two stands on the north end had been vandalized. The Deauville stand had its right rear leg cut through with what appears to have been a power saw. One board that makes up part of the stand's left rear leg was cut through as well.

Tweener, the next stand north, suffered a diagonal crack through the left rear leg, and a clean saw cut to the stand's rear right leg.

On Tuesday, July 28, Capt. Kent Buckson expressed his dismay to guards when the stands in the Deauville section were found stacked on a pole. He reportedly suggested it was done by one or more RBP guards.

The beach patrol separates Rehoboth into four sections. From the south: Hickman, Rehoboth, Olive and Deauville. Each section has a lieutenant and about 10 guards under his/her supervision.

According to one source, the four sections have a rivalry and commonly play pranks on each other throughout the summer. This is a tradition that has gone on for before Capt. Kent Buckson was captain. The Deauville section stands are targeted more often for such antics because of the isolation from the boardwalk.

While there was nothing obvious to suggest this weekend's incident was one of their pranks, the Deauville section chairs were each checked, and only these two were reported damaged.


There is a reason the entrance to the Rehoboth Beach Starbucks looks like a crime scene this weekend.

A female customer last summer supposedly tripped and fell at the entrance wearing what one person described as a ridiculous pair of heels. She is suing and Starbucks has taken up its ramp which was installed after the incident.

The entrance has been returned to its prior state, a single step, so they could perhaps recreate the mishap during the litigation. In the mean time, customers must enter the store from inside the mini-mall.

This was not the first time the main entrance to Starbucks had been closed. The entrance was closed after the door was discovered broken late one night last summer.


Wayne Steele, election judge, reads the results almost 12 minutes after voting ended on Saturday. Three commissioner candidates were competing for two seats. The two winners, shown below, are incumbent Commissioner Kathy McGuiness with 584 votes and Willis Sargent with 554 votes. Incumbent Commissioner Paul Kuhns finished last with 486 votes. Click here to see the official results/voting stats for 2009. None of our campaign sign-street counts predicted the correct outcome!



A pedestrian was injured after getting struck by a van in front of Browseabout Books in the second block of Rehoboth Avenue around 5:45 p.m. Saturday. One radio report suggested that the van was backing up when it struck the man's ankle. He was taken to Beebe Hospital in good condition.


An intoxicated 23-year-old Delaware man was arrested after crashing his Ford Contour into the East of Maui's shop van and the adjacent house, nearly missing the shop's manager.

According to a Dewey Beach PD news release, the dramatic accident was witnessed by a Dewey Beach police officer who watched the Contour speed north along Coastal Highway around 1:50 a.m. Thursday. The driver of the Contour lost control as he approached the curve where Route 1-A enters for Rehoboth. That's when he struck a curb and crashed into the East of Maui parking lot.

The car sped backwards and finally stopped when it struck the East of Maui van and the residence next to the business. At the time of the crash, the manager of East of Maui was standing next to the van, but amazingly was not injured.

The drunk driver attempted to flee on foot, but was quickly captured by police. He was taken into custody without further incident, and was taken by police to Beebe Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries. They also had a blood sample taken to determine his blood alcohol level.

Photos courtesy Dewey Beach Police Department



It took about five minutes for Coastal Towing to remove this Toyota Camry left in the ATM Parking Only space in front of the Rehoboth Beach Wilmington Trust on Saturday afternoon. This lot has been a popular location for after-hours tows of illegally parked vehicles during past seasons.



Several experts on Yahoo Groups have identified this butterfly spotted Friday in Rehoboth Beach as a Variegated Fritillary. It sits on Gaillardia (Blanket flower) near 1st Street and Baltimore Avenue.

The beetle, seen below feasting on a rotted cantaloupe in Rehoboth Beach this Saturday is a Necrophilia americana (American Carrion Beetle). They are beneficial and eat fly eggs, larvae and pupa typically on decaying animal carcasses. They are thought to be declining in numbers.



SHARK SIGHTING REPORTED BY REHOBOTH LIFEGUARD--- "I got what looks to be about a 4-foot, some kind of small type of shark that just floated up on my beach, and went to swim right back out. What do you recommend I do?" asked the guard on the Little Deauville stand just north of the Henlopen jetty around 12:25 p.m. Saturday.

His section lieutenant told him to "just go about your day, it's not going to hurt nothing." The guard reporting the sighting said the shark was "like hanging out right here in the surf... it just swam up and is swimming right around like maybe not even 10 yards out."

The lieutenant said he should "just keep people away from it for now. Don't clear your water or anything and then let it straighten out its bearings and it'll head on out... just try to keep people away from it without making a big deal out of it, alright?"

They speculated that the shark was attracted to a bag of bait somebody left in the surf in the Deauville area, which is frequented by surf fishermen.

JELLYFISH STINGS BACK WITH VENGEANCE--- Rehoboth and Dewey lifeguards saw a steady flow of beach goers this weekend complaining of jellyfish stings. Several cases included serious allergic reactions and vomiting. Some of the lifeguard stands have "jellyfish spray" to help ease the sting. Many of those injured are sent to the beach patrol's first aid station, unless they are having trouble breathing. An ambulance took one jellyfish-sting victim to Beebe Hospital on Saturday from Rehoboth Beach, and another on Sunday from Dewey Beach.

PREGNANT WOMAN BEATEN--- A 35-year-old seven-month pregnant woman was reported beaten on Central Avenue in West Rehoboth around 8:40 p.m. Friday. EMS personnel found her on Canal Crossing Road. They said she suffered a cut to her bottom lip and upper gum and a bruise to her forehead. She had been choked and had her face pushed into a bicycle tire. She was taken to Beebe Hospital by ambulance. During the weekend, a state police spokesman says he was unable to find any info on the assault in the computer system.

FISHERMAN INJURED WHILE CASTING--- A 35-year-old man fishing from the Oceanic Motel fishing pier in Ocean City was injured while casting a line. The operator of the fishing pier called for EMS around 9:40 p.m. Sunday and said the man was starting to appear as if he were going to faint after he somehow got a fishing lure stuck in his head. The man declined transport to the hospital.

O.C. BALCONY LOCKOUTS--- Ocean City firefighters responded to two incidents during a four-hour period where people were locked out on balconies. The first was reported around 11:35 p.m. Friday at 130th Street after a man and children were locked on a third-floor balcony. Around 3 a.m. Saturday, several persons were stranded on a fourth-floor balcony at the Seatime-North condo at 136th Street. Firefighters were able to assist the stranded.

EARLY MORNING C.O. ALARMS AT ECONO LODGE--- Ocean City firefighters responded twice early Sunday to activated carbon monoxide detectors at the Econo Lodge Oceanblock on 145th Street. The first report was received around 2:30 a.m. for a detector activated in room 305. That was possibly caused by a bad battery. Around 4:20 a.m., firefighters returned, but this time to room 111. There was no carbon monoxide detected by firefighters, even in the room with the pool heater.

LEWES DAIRY AMMONIA LEAK--- Lewes firefighters and DNREC crews spent the early morning hours on Friday investigating an ammonia leak at the Lewes Dairy on Pilottown Road near the University of Delaware. They received the call around 2:10 a.m. reporting the leak from inside the building near the cooler. There were no workers inside the plant. After a valve was shut off, the gas gradually cleared. The firefighters departed around 4:50 a.m., but left DNREC crews at the scene.

WEEKEND WATER INCIDENTS--- Rescuers kept busy this past weekend responding to several recreational water incidents:

Friday 11:05 a.m. - A person was heard yelling for help in Ocean City on the bay north of 15th Street. After several minutes of searching, the Coast Guard found a man and brought him to shore. He reportedly had been standing on the aft of a vessel and fell into the water. He was conscious and talking.

Saturday 3:20 p.m. - A teenage surfer was reported missing while surfing with friends north of Indian River Inlet. A massive search was initiated with participants that included Rehoboth Beach firefighters, the state police helicopter, Coast Guard, DNREC marine police and park rangers, the Lewes fire boat, and Dewey Beach lifeguards. The teen was reportedly missing since 2:45 p.m. Around 4:05 p.m. he was found on a boat. He was out on the boat "tubing" and failed to let others know where he was going.

Saturday 6 p.m. - Two swimmers were thought to have trouble returning to shore near South Carolina Avenue in Fenwick Island. The Coast Guard, state police helicopter, Bethany Beach firefighters and county paramedics responded. The swimmers safely swam to shore around 6:15 p.m.

Sunday 10 a.m. - A man called 9-1-1 after he claimed a kayaker flipped over near the Rusty Rudder in Dewey Beach. The caller said he was going out in a boat to investigate. Rehoboth Beach firefighters could not find anything and the man was not answering when the dispatcher tried to call him back. He later called to say the kayaker got back in the boat and was ok.

Sunday 5:10 p.m. - A 29-year-old man was seriously injured in a jet-ski accident in the Sinepuxent Bay near buoy marker #3. The Coast Guard took him to the commercial fishing pier in West Ocean City for transport by ambulance to the White Marlin Mall to meet a state police helicopter. Shortly after landing, the helicopter's tail rotor was struck by a flying box. The pilot shut down the helicopter to inspect the aircraft. After concluding that there was no damage, the crew flew the patient to a trauma center. EMS personnel checked out a second man who was involved in the incident but he was ok.


It's been a rough weekend getting to and from the beach resorts. Around 9:10 a.m. on Friday, rescuers in Bridgeville responded to an accident on Seashore Highway west of town. It was reported to involve a dump truck. Two people received minor injuries, but the roadway was closed in both directions. About 45 minutes later, rescuers moved to another crash with a vehicle reported overturned on Sussex Highway just north of Seashore Highway near Rifle Range Road. Injuries did not sound life threatening.

Around 10 a.m. on Saturday, beach-bound traffic on U.S. Route 50 backed up from Route 213 to the Kent Narrows bridge -- about 10 miles. By 11 a.m., Route 90 traffic into O.C. backed up about 7.5 miles. At 2 p.m., beach-bound traffic delays on Route 50 stretched about seven miles between Route 404 and Route 301.

During the afternoon and early evening hours on Sunday, west-bound Route 50 traffic once again backed up at Route 213, at times for about five miles, and about two or three miles near Outlet Center Drive. West-bound Route 50 traffic was also slow at Route 404 until around 6 p.m. West-bound Route 90 out of Ocean City was a mess around 5 p.m. after a two-vehicle crash on the bridge.






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