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jjcollins
04-21-2002, 01:25 PM
SHALIMAR -- An Indiana tourist's curiosity about what was attached to a float bobbing in a Florida Panhandle bayou earned him a night in jail and a possible five-year prison term.

Bruce Whitaker was riding a personal watercraft on Garnier Bayou two weeks ago when he stopped, lifted a crab trap from the water and then put it back after showing it to his passenger, a 10-year-old girl.

Greg Howland, Whitaker's host and friend, said on Saturday that what happened next was "like watching a horror movie" from his back yard on the bayou.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers arrested Whitaker, 47, of McCordsville, Ind., slapped handcuffs on him in front of family and friends and took him to the Okaloosa County Jail, where Howland bailed him out the next day.

The charge? Molesting a blue crab trap.

That's a felony, although commission spokesman Leroy Alderson said the charge is likely to be reduced to a misdemeanor that would probably let Whitaker get off by paying a fine.

The two men said they were unaware of the tampering law. "My first reaction was, 'Are you kidding?' " Whitaker said. "I was completely shocked, because I don't think either of us has as much as a reckless-driving ticket."

Alderson said the law protects the livelihoods of crabbers, who put their traps in certain places for a reason.

Howland admitted Whitaker made a mistake, but he said a fine, citation or warning should have been sufficient, not handcuffs, jail and a felony charge.


jj.........:eek: :eek:

BONZO
04-22-2002, 05:39 AM
Florida Panhandle sounds about right! - LOL

:D