Drunk boater throws box of flares, sponge at officer

A Marathon man was arrested Saturday after police say he threw a tantrum and a box of flares at a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer.

FWC Officer Johnathan Hettel said around 7 p.m. he responded to the call of a motorboat speeding through a wake zone at Boot Key Harbor City Marina in Marathon and followed a 14-foot motorboat for two minutes with his sirens and lights on.

According to the arrest report, Jose Torna, 62, was at the helm and reportedly fumbled and dropped his registration while trying to hand it over to Hettel, who wrote he smelled alcohol.

“At this time, I began moving our vessels towards the dock” where Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies were waiting, Hettel wrote.

Then Torna became “extremely agitated” and began “slamming items in his boat, as well as attempting to operate the throttles, slamming them down as well,” Hettel wrote in the report.

After reportedly screaming at the police in Spanish and at other people on the dock, Torna grabbed a box of flares and threw them at Hettel, he said.

“He then grabbed another object (later identified as a sponge) with the intent of striking me. As he threw it, the object struck me in the chest,” Hettel wrote.

He was arrested and taken to the Sheriff’s Office where he reportedly refused a breath sample.

Torna was arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer and boating while intoxicated and taken to the jail on Stock Island where he remained Tuesday on $15,000 bond.

According to the Sheriff’s Office website, Torna was arrested last month for boating while intoxicated in the Boot Key Harbor City Marina.

Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219