Power boat races are coming to Marathon!

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been going on in the county.

The power boat races will be coming to the city of Marathon next week, so expect traffic delays.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “The sheriff’s office will be busy working details, traffic control, trying to make it smooth. We’re going to see people pulling in and off the road with huge power boats. We’re going to have to stop traffic at times for some of the larger super boats.”

They will be launched around 33rd Street and the old Seven Mile Bridge area. The races will be on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “They’re going to let spectators actually walk out on the old bridge and watch the race from the bridge. That’s going to be really exciting. What a prime place to watch the boat races on the old scenic seven mile bridge while power boats are going right past you.”

It will definitely affect traffic, so citizens should be aware.

A 72-year-old Massachusetts man passed away in the water last week in the Keys. He was trying to make it to a vessel and began showing signs of distress. There were no signs of foul play.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “A lot of times people are not in the best of shape. He was out there in the boat. Something from the boat got broken from the boat and was drifting away. He elected to jump in and try to retrieve it and come back to the boat.”

He became distressed. Another boat saw him, picked him up and performed CPR, but it was too late.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “A sad, sad situation.”

Various marine thefts have also been on the rise.

Sheriff Ramsay explained, “We’re starting to see boats being targeted for high-end GPS’s. Most of the boats that have been targeted so far have been sitting at marinas. What we have seen we believe it’s targets from Miami coming down and cutting holes in the fence and then they’re getting on these boats. They’re not worried about security because most of these marinas don’t have security.”

The perpetrators seem to have already checked out the marinas and they get in to take the GPS electronics, some of which could be worth up to $5,000.  

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We’re trying to be proactive and put out a good message to the general public at their homes, but also marinas focusing on we want to have good lighting. We want to have motion sensor lights. We want to have good cameras and cameras which are blue toothed back to the staff’s phones so when something’s happening in real time they can see if someone’s actually on the property and call us.”

Trees should be cut down so police can see from the road if anything is happening and serial numbers should be written down from the GPS units.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “There’s just a litany of stuff that we can do to try to help out and be a little bit better.”

Most of the thefts at the moment are occurring in marinas that are storing boats.

A live-aboard resident from Boot Key Harbor area was found deceased on Friday.

There was also a fire on Cook Island over the weekend.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “There are no residents that out there with legal, lawful residential structures, but there are a few people that were living on the island squatting that were living on make-shift lean-tos or little shacks that were built.”

The fire was believed to have been started by a man-made fire, but there was no water and no means for fire apparatus to get out there – it’s very shallow to get into the island.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Measures were made to make sure people were safe and secure. It’s not uncommon on these islands where people are squatting to start a fire, whether it be for heat, whether it be for lighting, whether it be for cooking. In this case we think that a bonfire that was started out there got out of control.”

It burned down several man-made structures as well as some of the island’s foliage.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “The occupants were frustrated that they thought that no one cared about them out there, but it’s kind of hard when you live illegally and remotely on an island, there’s no ability to get resources to extinguish your illegal shack.”

A domestic violence incident led to quite a rough time for sheriff’s officers recently.

A judge told a man to stay away from a women who filed a restraining order against him after a domestic violence complaint. He was forced to relinquish all his weapons. As soon as he left the court, the man immediately went to the woman’s home and began arguing.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “At some point in time she was in the vehicle, trying to tell him to leave her alone. He got very upset. She wanted to get out of the car. He wouldn’t let her out of the car. She tried to get out of the car. He put the car in motion.”

He crashed into several items. By the time she got out, sheriff’s officers were called.

Eventually officers were able to get the car stopped. The man was quite combative.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “He’d been drinking. At the house there was a weapon, it was his weapon at the home. He had then violated the order for having contact with the victim, for this weapon that was now accessible to him, with us for DUI. Then when we tried to deal with him, he got confrontational. We had to wind up tazing him. This dumb person just made his situation worse. He should have learned from the night before when your actions resulted in you going to jail and a judge tells you not to have contact with her, weapons or anything else and you’re at this point in time on pre-trial release to go out and do everything wrong and everything you’re told not to do, you do. He’s back in jail. This time I think he’s going to be staying there for a while. He’s got a lot of serious charges as well as the judge will not likely let him out so easy now because clearly he won’t listen to the courts.”

A Miami, FL, man was arrested on a traffic stop on Saturday and a handgun was discovered as well as a whole lot of drugs.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “He’s from Miami coming down to the Keys with a litany of drugs to disperse in the Keys.”

He was stopped for speeding.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We say so much of our fentanyl cases occur from traffic stops. You’d think if you’ve got drugs and other stuff in your car you’d be driving like you’re supposed to and not draw attention, but not the smartest guy.”

When the car was stopped for speeding, as soon as the window rolls down, a strong smell of marijuana comes from the inside, which gives sheriff’s officers probably cause to search the car.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We do find a loaded firearm, which is always scary for us to be out with people who are carrying trafficking levels of narcotics and who don’t want to go to jail. These people a lot of the times are under the influence of narcotics while they’re doing this. So there really is a risk to us.”

Fentanyl, fentanyl-laced cocaine, fentanyl-laced marijuana, methamphetamines, Xanax and various other pills were discovered.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “This guy has a pharmacy of different types of stuff in the car.”

Some of it had to be sent out to the crime lab to determine what it was.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “It goes to show you how difficult and dangerous the job can be and how things can go pretty quickly from okay to very serious when you’re out with armed drug dealers in the middle of nowhere or people are fighting with you or people are trying to resist you and people are trying to get away. It’s a tough job. They’re out there for very little money trying to make differences and keep people safe and secure.”