WEEKEND #15, 2008

(Labor Day Weekend)

Possible Artifact Brought Ashore in Ocean City

Ocean City lifeguards assisted by bystanders struggled to bring to shore an unusual object this Labor Day. Around noon they discovered a piece of wood about 50-feet long floating in the surf at 43rd Street.

Beach Patrol Capt. Butch Arbin says the object may have historical significance. It has carvings in the wood, including Roman numerals, and was filled with a metallic substance. Lifeguards said it could be a ship's rudder, or the frame-work of an old ship's hull.

Capt. Arbin said it posed a threat to swimmers and a hazard to navigation, so they wanted it removed from the surf. A front-end loader from the city's public works department dragged the item up the beach where it remains Monday evening until the city can determine what best to do with it.

Photos by Kristin Joson, Ocean City Beach Patrol


Motorcyclist Killed, Witness Claims He Fled Police

A motorcyclist was killed instantly when he crashed around 10:20 p.m. Monday night on the northbound lanes of Route 1 outside of Rehoboth Beach. It appears he struck the rear of a pontoon boat that was being hauled on a trailer (shown below).

Officials covered the man's body which remained on the slow lane feet from the pontoon boat's engine cover which was south of where the motorcycle came to rest.

The northbound lanes of Route 1 were closed for several hours for accident reconstruction. Dewey Beach officials were still investigating late Monday night and were unavailable for comment. Traffic was detoured to Church Street through to Rehoboth Avenue Extended.

A Dewey Beach police officer was the first official on the scene, and radioed for assistance. A witness said the motorcyclist sped past him, and then crashed into the pontoon boat. That's when he saw the Dewey Beach police car.

Labor Day Visitors Pack Rehoboth!

High gas prices, the threat of rain and Bay Bridge traffic chaos could not discourage diehard beach crowds from coming this holiday weekend.

Not only did they come, they came in great numbers, and waited in lines all over town.

This is the umbrella and chair rental shed on the south end of the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk just before 1 p.m. Sunday.

The shed rented out completely prior to 2 p.m. (below).

More than 40 customers waited to gain access to the already-packed Aqua Grill on Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth Beach. This was only 7:20 p.m. Saturday.


Massive Crowds Attend 21st Annual Drag Volleyball Game

One of the weekend's big attractions was the annual drag volleyball tournament, which takes place on the beach at the south edge of the Rehoboth city limits.

After much fanfare, this year's games got underway around 1:50 p.m. Sunday with what seemed like thousands of spectators struggling for a glimpse.

This year's team themes were Mothers, who wore blue, and Deal or No Deal, whose players wore black dresses.


The players posed for a photo-op for the many photographers prior to the start of the game.

The games have been a popular Labor Day tradition since they started in 1988. Read more about the history in the August 2000, August 2003 and August 2004 Letters from Camp Rehoboth.

Labor Day Weekend Surf Injuries

EMS crews assisted by beach patrols responded to more than 40 surf-related injuries from Friday through Monday between Cape Henlopen and Ocean City.

Below: EMTs load one of the weekend's last surf injury victims into an ambulance on Rehoboth Avenue. A 38-year-old man suffered a possible neck-back injury and suspected dislocated right shoulder while in the surf around 2:25 p.m. on Monday. He was one of seven who was injured on the beach in Rehoboth this weekend and taken to Beebe Hospital by ambulance.

Ocean City, with more than 10 miles of beach, had about 28 such beach emergencies with 15 on Sunday.

Only two of the injured were flown by helicopter, and both were injured in Ocean City. That included a 66-year-old woman who struck her head on the surf floor near the Rainbow Condo around 1:40 p.m. Saturday; and a woman who injured her neck in the surf on 9th Street around 11:40 a.m. Monday.

Ocean City Beach Patrol Capt. Butch Arbin blames the tropical activity for the weekend's injuries. He said the ocean pounded the Ocean City pier Sunday evening with larger-than-usual waves and a powerful shore break. But overall, he says "EMS assists" were down during the 2008 season.

Friday-Monday totals for EMS calls to beach during lifeguard hours:
28 - Ocean City
7 - Rehoboth Beach
2 - Delaware Seashore (north side)
2 - Fenwick Island
2 - South Bethany
1 - Cape Henlopen
1 - Sea Colony

Beach patrols in Rehoboth Beach and Ocean City plan to have guards on stands through September 21. After that, Capt. Arbin said Ocean City will have roving mobile patrols through Columbus Day Weekend.

2008 Lunch-Time Tow-Request Totals for Rehoboth Lifeguard Parking

Lunch-time tow requests from reserved lifeguard parking is way down from previous seasons. Only six vehicles were towed by Rehoboth Beach guards returning from lunch this season.

The two reserved spaces on Stockley Street were painted early this summer, and a new sign (with arrows) was erected right on the center line. The west most space (pictured below) claimed six tows in 2007, and eight tows the prior year. Some of those towed claimed they assumed the sign only applied to the east space. This year, neither space had a single tow during lifeguard lunch hours.

Another reason tows are down is that in several cases Beach Patrol Capt. Kent Buckson steered guards to alternate parking when unauthorized vehicles were in their spaces. Unlike previous years, the beach patrol did not insist that police tow all unauthorized vehicles.

Lifeguards have two parking spaces reserved on selected streets, but only one sign is used to mark those spaces. Arrows were painted on signs that reserve the pairs of parking spaces. This may have helped to clarify that the sign applies to both spaces, especially if it is not perfectly on the center dividing line.

2008 Stockley Street Lifeguard Parking

2007 Stockley Street Lifeguard Parking



While illegally parked in reserved lifeguard spaces, all six vehicles displayed current Rehoboth Beach parking permits, or had time in the meter if parked at a metered space.

4 Rehoboth Parking Meters Missing!

Four Duncan parking meters were reported missing with an attempted theft on a fifth meter this past week. Rehoboth Beach Police Det. Kevin Jones says the meters disappeared between Monday evening and Tuesday morning from their posts in the ocean blocks of Delaware and Brooklyn avenues. He has no suspects and asks the public to help identify the culprits.

Rehoboth Nabs Several Most Wanted Vehicles

A man claimed this Hyundai Accent minutes after a Rehoboth parking enforcer discovered it parked at an expired meter on Lake Avenue just steps from the Parking Meter Department offices.

The ticket writer told the man that he owed the city $225 in parking fines. The man suggested he was going to pay, and was given the usual 20 minutes to appear at the Parking Meter Department offices. When he failed to appear Coastal Towing removed his Hyundai around 6:25 p.m. Saturday.

That Hyundai was one of at least eight wanted vehicles Rehoboth ticket writers discovered since last Sunday.

Fines on parking tickets increase if not paid. By this point in the season, many offenders have finally reached the $150 towing threshold. The wanted vehicles typically are discovered parked in commercial areas where the owners work at a local business.

Three of the wanted vehicles this past week were discovered on Wilmington Avenue, two on Christian Street, one on Rehoboth Avenue and the one mentioned above on Lake Avenue.

Rehoboth Beach parking meters will continue to be enforced through September 15. All parking permit areas are now free.

State Road Water Main Breaks

A construction crew had been digging a trench on State Road when a water main broke late Thursday morning. Water service to the nearby Park Place Condo was not affected, since the main appeared to feed fire hydrants.

Water flowed onto State Road, forcing police to close one lane for much of the afternoon for repair crews.


Remembering Michael Johnson

Last weekend marked the 10th anniversary since 24-year-old Michael Johnson drowned in Rehoboth Beach. Michael's parents, Susan and Carl Johnson of Wheaton, Maryland, have since become water safety advocates.

Michael got caught in a rip around 4:30 p.m. off Laurel Street on August 23, 1998. His death remains the only drowning in recent history -- if ever -- that happened while the Rehoboth Beach Patrol was on duty.

Michael was an avid Scout. His parents along with lifeguards sponsor a Scout water safety weekend each summer in Dewey Beach in his memory. This program is open to any Boy or Girl Scout Troop that would like to participate next year.

Photos courtesy Susan Johnson