Crime

Two men jailed after taking marine officers on chase with their Waverunners

Two Marathon men operating personal watercraft were arrested on a felony count each of fleeing from state marine officers after sunset Sunday.

Rene N. Torna, 47, and Steven Torna, 19, also face misdemeanor counts and several boating-gear violations, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported.

FWC Officer Kyle Plussa was on patrol around 8 p.m. off the Marathon bayside when he saw two unlighted vessels on the water.

Personal watercraft legally cannot operate after sunset since state regulations forbid mounting lights on the small jet-powered boats, agency spokesman Officer Bobby Dube said.

"PWCs are supposed to be at the dock by sunset," Dube said. "When Officer Plussa saw the two [Yamaha] Waverunners operating in the darkness, Officer Plussa went to pull them over.

"The PWCs fled and a chase ensued," Dube said. "Eventually the operators realized they could not outrun our patrol boat."

The vessels docked at the 33rd Street boat ramp.

"Both men claimed they were trying to get back to shore before dark," Dube said. "They stopped following legal commands, then became belligerent and very non-compliant."

A Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputy provided backup at the ramp.

Charges filed against both men include felony fleeing and misdemeanor counts of reckless boat operation and resisting arrest without violence.

They also were cited for nine boating violations including running without lights after dark, failure to have a vessel registration, visible registration numbers or current decal, and refusing to allow a safety inspection.

Both Tornas were released from the Monroe County jail Monday afternoon after posting $11,000 bond each.

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