Charter boat passengers held captive for 17 hours by drunk captain who was firing handgun

Captain Mark Bailey allegedly got drunk and high on beer, rum and cocaine, according to passengers who claim he held them hostage on his charter boat during a fishing trip gone wrong. (Photo: Courtesy of Tampa Bay Times)

A charter boat captain was arrested in Florida after getting intoxicated, firing a handgun and refusing to take the frightened passengers to shore in a nightmarish ordeal that lasted more than 17 hours.

Passenger Carlo Lopeparo told Yahoo Lifestyle that he had been on captain Mark Bailey’s boat, Double Marker, several times before without incident, but this fishing trip was different.

Witnesses told Sarasota police that Bailey had consumed multiple beers while driving the boat. One passenger claims to have watched Bailey drinking rum, too, and another alleges that the captain was also snorting cocaine, according to ABC Action News.

About 60 miles out, Lopeparo asked fellow 16-year-old passenger Jason Rialmo to fetch him a beer from a bucket next to the captain. When the teen grabbed the beer, Bailey reportedly banned him from giving it out. Thinking he was joking, Rialmo kept going — so the irate captain grabbed the teen by the neck, ripping off his necklace.

Passengers rose to Rialmo’s defense, getting into an altercation with Bailey, according to WFLA. They ultimately decided to let it go, even as the captain continued to imbibe. Later in the boat ride, Bailey told 25-year-old passenger Chris Giuffre he wanted to speak with him — and what the captain shared was terrifying: “I have a gun and if I want to, I will put a bullet in each of your heads and leave you out here,” Bailey reportedly said.

“At that point we were all kind of waiting for something horrible to happen for him to come down those stairs with his gun,” said Chris’ father, Christopher Giuffre, to WFLA. And he was right: Bailey then pulled out a a 9mm handgun and fired six to seven shots in the air.

“About the time he threatened to shoot us all and starting firing shots is when we realized it was going to be a life and death situation,” Lopeparo told Yahoo Lifestyle. “We were all in fear for our lives and each other.”

So the passengers decided to put their heads together and figure out how to escape what had become a life-threatening hostage situation. “At this point I was thinking, ‘This is going to end really badly,’ and I think we were all trying to strategize as to what we could do, where we could hide, where could we go, how could we stem the confrontation that was about to ensue,” said Giuffre.

As the captain began driving the boat in circles, passengers tried pleading with him to return to shore. Bailey reportedly responded, “No, I can do this as long as I want. I do this for a living.”

Lopeparo — who had boarded the boat alongside his brother, nephew and two close friends — said the passengers then decided to move to the bottom deck. ”We knew he wouldn’t shoot down and leave himself stranded in ocean,” he said. “And the plan was to keep all passengers calm and collected.”

By about midnight, 17 hours after the charter boat had set sail at 7 a.m., Bailey had steered the boat close enough to the shore to restore cell phone service, and Lopeparo’s friend was able to call a relative, who contacted authorities. According to reports, other passengers had also reached out to the Sarasota police and the U.S. Coast Guard.

First responders from both organizations received the S.O.S. shortly after midnight. Officers were able to rescue the passengers and arrest Bailey. They reportedly led him, stumbling, to a nearby cruiser. He refused a field sobriety test, but officers say he was slurring his words, had watery, bloodshot eyes, and wreaked of alcohol.

Bailey continued to be belligerent in the police cruiser, attempting to kick out its rear door and demanding to speak with a supervisor, according to a police report. He was charged with boating under the influence and resisting arrest without violence.

The Coast Guard is investigating the captain for crimes that took place on the water, under their jurisdiction, according to WWSB. These would include using a handgun and holding the passengers captive.

Lopeparo is relieved that he and all the passengers were able to escape the agonizing situation thanks to the “phenomenal” first responders, but he admitted that he feels a measure of guilt for bringing his family and friends onto the boat. He added, “I’m just thankful this happened to us rather than a family that might not have been capable of remaining calm.”

Reckless mobility scooter riders are a danger to the public, charities warn

Road accidents involving reckless mobility scooter riders are on the rise, safety charities have warned, amid calls persistent offenders should face having their electric vehicles confiscated.

Influential road safety groups have called for laws to be clarified so users are reminded of their responsibilities while travelling on streets and pavements, including being subject to road traffic legislation.

Currently mobility scooter users do not require a licence to operate vehicles, though high-powered versions must be registered with the DVLA before being driven on roads.

It means those caught committing criminal offences such as driving scooters while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are often free to continue using them and are served with driving penalties instead.

IAM Roadsmart, one of Britain’s leading driver awareness groups, has now suggested repeat offenders should face having their electric vehicles seized when all other options are exhausted.

Rebecca Ashton, from the charity, said: “Anyone driving a mechanically-propelled vehicle must be in full control of it, they need to be fully capable of controlling the machine to avoid causing danger to themselves or other road users.

“Persistent offenders should be fined every time and banned if have a licence, offering a re-education course could help people to understand the dangers of using such a machine while unfit through drink or drugs.

“Education is paramount to helping people know what they can and can’t do on their mobility scooters, and investment into helping people understand the rules would be welcomed.

“We would say each case would need to be looked at on an individual basis, with education playing an important role. Removing the scooter should only be considered when all other options have failed.”

While the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) called for traffic laws to be clarified after it said figures showed a rise in the number of accidents and casualties since records began in 2013.

A spokesperson said: “As with all forms of transport mobility scooters create some risk for both the user and for other people.

“The number of accidents and casualties involving mobility scooters is increasing.

“It would help if it was made clear that road traffic laws governing careless and dangerous driving all apply to mobility scooter users.”

It comes in the wake of a case involving a drunken mobility scooter user who was punished with a three-year driving ban even though he doesn’t use a car.

Michael Heaven, 56, was disqualified from the roads after he pleaded guilty driving a mechanically powered vehicle in Swindon last month.

The 56-year-old admitted the offence at Swindon Magistrates Court after tests showed he was over one-and-a-half times the drink drive limit when he was breathalysed by police while riding his burgundy-coloured scooter.

Heaven claimed he felt “victimised” by the disqualification, adding it was meaningless as he doesn’t use a car.

He said: “Even the solicitor said it’s something he’s never come across. I didn’t drive anyway.”

But Wiltshire Police defended the decision to prosecute. Sgt Tristian Winter said: “This man was over one-and-a-half times over the drink drive limit and was convicted under Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act which essentially makes it an offence to drive or ride a mechanically propelled vehicle while impaired by drink or drugs.

“Members of the public should be aware that if they plan to use such a vehicle that they should not drink or take drugs as they are putting other people, and themselves in danger, and they will be caught and put before the courts.”

Last year, a district judge in Northern Ireland found he could not ban a 70-year-old repeat drink-driver from using his mobility – despite a lengthy record.

And in July 2017, John Hunt, then 54, was endorsed with 10 penalty points but allowed to continue riding his scooter when he admitted being drunk while driving his mobility scooter as he made his way home from a night out in Colchester.

BEHIND THE WHEEL: Special Investigative report examining marijuana and DUI

AUBURN, Ala (WRBL) The deadly crash that killed the Voice of the Auburn Tigers – Rod Bramblett and his wife Paula, followed by the arrest of a 16-year-old on a manslaughter charge- is forcing our community to confront issues regarding suspected Marijuana DUI.

On July 1st – Auburn Police arrested 16-year-old Johnston Taylor on warrants charging him with two counts of manslaughter. 

Court documents say a blood sample taken from the teen after the crash contained T-H-C – indicating “recent” use of marijuana.

The electronic data recorder from Taylor’s Jeep Laredo alleges he was accelerating from 89 miles an hour to 91 miles an hour – with no braking – when it rear-ended the Bramblett’s SUV on May 25th in the deadly crash along Shug Jordan Parkway. 

The legal system will decide if the teen was impaired while behind the wheel that night.

News 3 Investigative Reporter Elizabeth White spoke with one of the country’s foremost experts on marijuana-impaired driving.

Chris Halsor spent eight years as a Denver prosecutor and more recently as Colorado’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor, where he provided impaired driving training for law enforcement and prosecutors.

“I just so happened to start that job when medical marijuana really took off in Colorado, so I was sort of very early on jumping on the subject of marijuana impaired driving for the better part of the last decade and have really invested myself into developing expertise in that area,” said Halsor. 

Halsor is now in private practice – and founder of Understanding Legal Marijuana, LLC, where he trains state and local governments considering or dealing with legal marijuana initiatives.

“I always try to hold myself out as the objective rational actor. I don’t take an advocacy position on weather it’s a good idea or  bad idea, I just present the facts,” said Halsor.

Our first question for Halsor focuses on how toxicologists determine recent use of marijuana. 

“There is a test, Elizabeth, you can utilize to determine whether somebody has recently utilized marijuana. There are different metabolic markers out there so some would assert that THC would remain in the system up to 30 days.  In fact there is a biological marker that can test for that either in blood or urine, so that itself my not be dispositive.
However, if you give somebody a blood test and you test for what’s called DELTA 9 THC, the active impairing ingredient in marijuana then in fact you might be able to establish to a degree of certainty that a person had recently consumed or otherwise ingested THC. Different studies have established that dissipation rates for at least smoked marijuana might be two or four hours,” Halsor responded.

Halsor says driving under the influence of marijuana is just as dangerous as driving drunk or any intoxicating drug.

Halsor believes marijuana impairment can vary depending on the individual – and the type ingested. 

He says research indicates the most common impairments are short term memory lapse, inability to navigate curves, failure to recognize stops and speed limits. 

Halsor stated, “Speed, interestingly enough, in several studies is regarded as one of the tell-tale clues. Popular conventional wisdom suggests that somebody under the influence of marijuana may be driving slow, but the data and statistics actually suggest speeding is more likely to be common and attached to marijuana use.”

In Alabama, medical and recreational use of marijuana is illegal. Although, in June of this year, Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill creating an Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to study the effects of medical marijuana. 

Haslor says with more states legalizing the use of marijuana for medical and or recreational purposes, he urges the community to educate themselves – above and beyond a Google search.

News 3 spoke with Johnston Taylor’s defense attorney out of Birmingham.

Attorney Tommy Spina said: “There are no words I could say, on behalf of my client and his family, that would adequately express the remorse and contrition this child and his family feel for the loss caused to the Bramblett family as a result of this tragic accident.”

Spina says Taylor had not smoked marijuana and was not impaired at the time of the crash. 

The attorney maintains Taylor fell asleep at the wheel and remembers nothing of the crash.

A preliminary hearing was set for July 31st – which Taylor’s attorney tells News 3 he is waiving, so the case will automatically go to a Lee County Grand Jury.

Count on News 3 to continue to follow this important story for you.

Blood sample of Sriram IAS taken in Basheer accident case: How cops read alcohol levels

Sriram Venkitaraman, an IAS officer, was driving the car that rammed into Kerala journalist Basheer, killing the latter. 

Powered by Minute Media Kerala woke up to the grim news of a journalist who was killed in a road accident on Saturday. Basheer, the Thiruvananthapuram bureau chief of Siraj newspaper, was hit by a car which, police officers and eyewitnesses say, was driven by Survey Director Sriram Venkitaraman IAS in the wee hours of Saturday. 

Though Basheer was rushed to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College hospital, he passed away by the time they reached.

Sriram sustained minor injuries and has been admitted to the KIMS hospital, where the police have recorded his statement. His blood has been drawn for testing blood alcohol limits to ascertain if he was driving under the influence of alcohol when the accident occurred. Though it is yet to be confirmed, one of the eyewitnesses of the accident had posted on social media that the driver of the car was heavily inebriated. 

Timing of test – a crucial factor

In cases of suspected drunk driving, timing can prove to be a crucial factor in determining whether the person at the wheels was under the influence of alcohol when he or she caused the accident.

A retired Additional Superintendent of Police says that the driver must be secured and taken to a government hospital for a medical test within 24 hours of the accident.

Adding that there are different levels of alcohol influence that the doctors categorise the accused into, the ADSP says, “One category is ‘Consumed alcohol and unable to drive vehicle’, second one is ‘consumed alcohol and is conscious’ and the last level is ‘only smell of alcohol but no symptoms of alcohol disorder’,” he explains.

Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act (Driving by a drunken person or by a person under the influence of drugs) will be added to the FIR if the accused falls under the first two categories. 

Consent of the accused 

The ADSP, however, says that consent of the accused, if not inebriated, is necessary before extracting body fluids from him or her. 

Another senior police officer in Tamil Nadu police confirms this but adds that if the accused is in an ebriated condition, then his consent is not mandatory since he will be considered incapable of giving consent.  

Moreover, according to Section 204 (2) (b) of the Motor Vehicles Act, if the person having been required, whether at the hospital or elsewhere, to provide a specimen of breath for a breath test, has refused, omitted or failed to do so, a police officer can take blood sample if he or she has reasonable cause to suspect the accused of having alcohol in the blood.

In the Kerala case, a senior cop had initially told the media that Sriram had refused to give a blood sample. 

In practice, police officers generally coax the accused to give the samples for testing if they suspect drunk driving.

“Actually in any case, if an accident happens on the road, we arrest the driver. Drunken or otherwise. We then take him to a government hospital and coax him to give samples for the medical test to ascertain if he was driving under the influence of alcohol,” says another police officer who works in the Traffic division in Tamil Nadu.

Breathalyser tests are the basic results which the police fall back on, given the delay involved in taking blood alcohol tests. “If the breathalyzer results show alcohol levels above 30mg per 100ml of blood, then we file the FIR under section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act as well. When breathalyzer machines are not available, then police depend on blood and urine test results to add that section in the FIR,” he explains.

Medical tests

When people suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol are brought to a hospital, the physician starts with simple tests on the suspects.

“The examination of the accused by doctors is done in two stages. One is the subjective exam which is checking the pupillary response (response of the pupils of the eye) of the accused, making him speak to see if his speech is slurred and asking him to walk a few steps to see if he is physically stable. The lab tests are a method to ascertain the blood alcohol levels objectively,” a doctor working in Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai told TNM.

Poorvisha Ravi, a Scientific Officer in the Department of Forensic Sciences, Tamil Nadu, says that the results will be different in every case since the alcohol content keeps decreasing inside the body as time lapses.

“Honestly, alcohol is metabolised completely in about four to six hours in the body. It means that it becomes difficult to trace after that point and the traceability becomes more tough as time lapses. However, the urine test can be a better gauge to test alcohol traces in the body since it is not eliminated immediately and is collected and stored for quite a while within the body,” says.

Adding that there are legal limits set for considering a person as driving under the influence of alcohol, the labs generally do not interpret the results. “We have machines that detect alcohol traces from 20mg to 350mg per 100ml of blood. The range is pretty wide. We report whatever we find in the body fluid sample irrespective of what the law says. We leave the interpretation of those results to the medical officer or the court,” she adds.

Woman Arrested for Trying to Pour Hennessy for Taco Bell Drive-Thru Employee

As the home of the fourth meal, visiting a Taco Bell late can sometimes feels like stepping through a portal into another universe where seemingly anything can happen. Sometimes intoxicants are involved. Sometimes the police get involved. Fittingly, this particular story involves both of those things.

Recently, an Oregonian woman was the subject of what the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said registered as the “WEIRDEST DUII [driving under the influence of intoxicants] ARREST OF THE WEEKEND.” Why? At approximately 1:20 AM on Saturday, 23-year-old Elianna Anguilar-Anguilar was trying to turn up in a Taco Bell drive-thru lane by attempting to pour some Hennessy in the mouth of the Taco Bell employee.

From my perspective, this is exactly the kind of behavior that fits the definition of Taco Bell’s “Live Mas” mentality. Unfortunately, the cops who were waiting in line right behind her didn’t really see it that way. Yup. It appears that Anguilar-Anguilar lacked the situational awareness to realize that Washington County Sheriff’s department officers also were waiting on some Taco Bell. That may explain why she ended up blowing a BAC of .12 (150% of Oregon’s legal limit), leading to an arrest.

The worst part: WSMV reports that officers spoke to the Taco Bell employee, who said most of the Henny spilled on him, and that he didn’t actually drink any of it. What a tragic waste.

So let that be a lesson to you. Never drive drunk, but especially don’t make any failed attempts to pour Hennesy through a drive-through window. If you’re gonna get behind the wheel, just load up on Baja Blast instead.