SARASOTA – Marina patrons say that, in a sudden “whiskey throttle,” a drunken yacht pilot struck a row of boats head-on before being stopped by an aluminum dock on Saturday.
The man’s unusual behavior as he tried to dock the 40-foot Carver Yacht for about six minutes caught the attention of people in the marina – on lavish boats and onshore – who watched him come perilously close to a number of watercraft.
However, the helmsman on the two-deck boat did not heed warnings and continued until he collided with boats on the northeast side of Bayfront Park, across from Marina Jack restaurant.
“I was sitting at the (Bayfront) park with my kids and I heard other people gasp because this man made a huge wake that was rocking the other boats pretty bad,” said Kayla McLoughlin, who recorded a video on her cell phone. “I started recording four minutes before because I’m like if these boats get damage, I want to show them what happened.”
A Sarasota Police Department marine patrol officer was the first on the scene.
According to an arrest report, Brendan Corey Sheridan, 32, was identified as the pilot of the yacht and was read a Miranda Warning by officers. He did not answer questions.
The report said Sheridan wore a “disarranged” T-shirt, shorts and sandals. He stood up slowly after being notified of his rights and placed his hands behind his back. His speech was lethargic and sluggish, the report states.
Sheridan refused field sobriety tests – horizontal gaze, walk and turn, one leg stand, an eye test and the finger to nose test.
Sheridan was charged with four misdemeanor counts of boating under the influence with property damage. His two breathalyzer tests were 0.185 and 0.180 percent – more than 2.3 times the level at which a person is considered impaired. He was released Sunday on $2,000 bail.
Michaela Jean Larson, 46, who lives near Sheridan, was also aboard the boat.
Following the crash, witnesses said the operator of the yacht walked down to the cabin and threw a knife into the water.
Another witness – a man and his son – at Marina Jack said they saw the boat come into the marina and heard the boat rev its engine. They said they witnessed the boat operator at the helm, but he did not appear worried that he was about to ram other boats, the report states.
“As he got close to another yacht, the people were screaming ‘SHUT IT DOWN!'” McLoughlin said. “Then he turned around and just went straight into the other boat; then just kept going and hit the dock and turned it off and just walked down stairs like it was nothing.”
Sheridan told officers he was attempting to dock but caught an east wind that blew him into other boats.
Officers said the amount of damage was not consistent with getting blown into another boat, the report states.
Sheridan told officers he did not have any mechanical failures. He spoke softly and said he had more than 100 hours operating the vessel he was on.
Larson told officers she was going to help Sheridan tie the boat off but noticed he was going to hit a dock piling and called out to him.
“Sheridan then just gassed the vessel hard,” she stated.
Neither Sheridan nor Larson would tell police where they were coming from or whether they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the report states.
Sheridan surrendered his license.
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