Captain of shrimp boat aground on Atlantic Beach charged with boating under the influence

Published On: Sep 10 2012 03:04:02 PM EDT

The a rescue boat from Coast Guard Station Mayport, along with a helicopter from Savannah and GWC and JFRC crews searched for a boater who jumped from the boat and evaded Atlantic Beach police.


The captain of the shrimp boat that ran aground on Atlantic Beach last month was charged with boating under the influence and five other charges. .

Kenneth Thomas, 27, was operating the "Joe Bip" when it grounded on the beach the night of Aug. 20.  When Atlantic Beach police arrived and smelled a strong odor of alcohol on him, he was placed in handcuffs. 

According to the report, after Thomas convinced officers to take off the handcuffs so he could shut off the boat's engine, he urinated, shut off the engine, then jumped over the rail and swam off.

The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies searched for Thomas for 10 hours until his mother called to say he was safe.

IMAGES: Shrimp boat on beach

After the case was investigated and an arrest warrant was signed, officers found Thomas hiding in the closet of an Atlantic Beach apartment last Thursday. 

Thomas (pictured, right) was arrested and charged with resisting an officer without violence, boating under the influence, leaving the scene of a boating accident, disorderly intoxication and breach of the peace and was booked into the Duval County jail.

Crews spent two days getting the "Joe Bip," back out to sea.

Vernon Potts, whose family owns the boat, said because the boat is fiberglass, it not sustain too much damage. And overall, he's pretty understanding of the situation.

"This ain't the first thing, first time I saw this happen," Potts said. "People working long days, working nights and days, you know, it's going to happen."


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