Sheriff’s employees reprimanded for boating incident
PUNTA GORDA — The two Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office employees involved in a holiday boating flap that left two men stranded in harbor waters for hours both were reprimanded for their actions by the agency, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
CCSO Evidence Supervisor Erin Hume and CCSO Evidence Custodian Melody Shinner both were found in violation of the agency’s conduct standards for their roles in the incident.
According to reports, the two women were a part of a group of six people who went boating on Sept. 2. Near dusk, two men on the 23-foot vessel — Hume’s husband Andrew and Shinner’s husband Eric — jumped into the water and then, as a joke, were left by the four women who remained in the boat, authorities said.
The report states the women who remained in the boat, also including Angela Mobley and Melinda Wilson, attempted to play a prank on the men by pretending to leave them, but when they returned in the boat they could not locate the men.
They originally reported that the men were ejected when they struck a sandbar, but eventually relented and told authorities what happened, according to the CCSO. They searched for nearly 40 minutes before contacting authorities, the report states.
Several agencies participated in the search, with the CCSO aviation unit eventually locating the men using a helicopter equipped with heat-seeking technology.
The men were located
1.5 miles north of Cape Haze Point, and a quarter-mile offshore, the report states. Both men were found in good health when they were pulled out of the water around
12:30 a.m. Sept. 3.
A CCSO report dated Sept. 2 states the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer assigned to investigate believed the women were attempting to deceive him in their initial report to emergency responders. The FWC later would decline to file any charges because it could not determine who was driving the boat, but was confident that all the parties were intoxicated.
The boat, belonging to Eric Shinner, was left docked for the night at Boca Grande, and at least three of the people were transported back to the Shinners’ residence on Dartmouth Drive in Port Charlotte by a road deputy, the report states. The CCSO also did not file any criminal charges against the group.
In letters of reprimand to both women dated Sept. 6, their actions were found to be embarrassing for both the agency and themselves, and they were reminded to conduct themselves in a favorable manner at all times.
Copies of the reprimands were placed in their personnel files.
In a previous report by the Sun, both the CCSO and the FWC disagreed as to in whose jurisdiction the incident occurred.