FWC and HCSO crack down on boating under the influence, resulting in 29 arrests
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office teamed up in April and May for a targeted enforcement, Operation Bird Dog, on the Alafia River in Hillsborough County, resulting in 29 boating under the influence arrests.
This targeted enforcement was in response to a tragic incident that occurred on May 17, 2020 on the Alafia River involving a boat towing a tube, and a personal watercraft being operated by Joseph Miltner, age 40, who fatally struck 12-year-old Jasina Campbell. One individual was transported to the hospital with injuries and, sadly, Campbell was recovered by the HCSO dive team deceased.
After a months-long investigation, it was determined that Miltner’s consumption of alcohol; reckless operation of the PWC, to include an accelerated speed in a posted idle speed zone; and failure to avoid collision with the inner tube caused the death of Campbell. Miltner was charged with BUI manslaughter and vessel homicide.
“I appreciate the collaboration between the FWC and HCSO to keep the boating public in Tampa Bay safe and providing safe waterways for all to enjoy,” said FWC Maj. Roger Young. “While nothing will bring Jasina back to her family, we hope that our efforts will ensure that other families do not have to endure the pain that this family has gone through. It is never acceptable to operate a boat while impaired by alcohol or drugs.”
"FWC and HCSO work together to keep our waterways safe so we never have to tell another family their young child won't be coming home because of someone's reckless decisions and actions," said HCSO Sheriff Chad Chronister. "Boating while impaired will not be tolerated and if you attempt to do so in Hillsborough County, let Operation Bird Dog be your warning, you will be arrested."
Among the 29 boating under the influence arrests during this targeted enforcement action was one individual who was arrested for felony BUI with six prior driving under the influence arrests.
In addition to the 29 BUI arrests, this targeted enforcement resulted in the following actions:
- 81 boating citations.
- 100 boating warnings.
- 185 vessel inspections.
- Two citations for resource violations.
- One stolen jet ski recovered.
National Safe Boating Week begins on May 22 and runs through Memorial Day weekend. The FWC and HCSO encourage the public to make it a habit to operate sober or designate a sober operator before you leave the dock.
For more information about boating safety, visit MyFWC.com/boating.