Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Morning Report
I love reading the daily "Morning Report," which is issued every day by the National Park Service as a summary of various incidents that occur in our National Parks. Most of the entries are hum-drum petty crimes, while others are more serious. But what makes the report so interesting is the style of the editor and writer. He has such a deadpan delivery on incidents that I wonder if he sees the humor in them, even in serious situations. I get the feeling he takes his job very seriously. Here are a couple of examples just from this week:

Morning Report from August 19, 2003
Mammoth Cave National Park (KY)
Arrest for Child Sexual Abuse

On July 16th, rangers received information regarding a possible sexual abuse incident that had occurred in the park. Investigation revealed that Robert Felker of Cave City, Kentucky, had camped with a female companion and a 12 year-old child at Houchins Ferry campground in late May or early June. While staying there, Felker attempted to fondle the child and also tried to coerce him into having sex with his female companion. The child's parents became aware of the incident when they noticed the child making sexual advances toward a younger sibling. When asked about his behavior, the child – who suffers from severe ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) – told his parents that he had learned it on the camping trip. The female companion who was present was identified and corroborated the child's story. The case was presented to a grand jury, which returned a sealed indictment against Felker on August 6th. Law enforcement specialist Brad McDougal and ranger Miranda Cook arrested Felker in nearby Glasgow, Kentucky, the following day. At the time of his arrest, Felker was dressed in the cowboy costume he wore as part of his duties as a performer at a local theme park that caters to families with children. Ranger David Alexander is the case agent.
[Submitted by Wayne Elliott, Chief Ranger]

Morning Report from August 20, 2003
Voyageurs National Park (MN)
Conviction for Illegal PWC Operation

On August 8th, a federal magistrate found Kyle Glennie and Kalan Wagner guilty of illegally operating their personal water craft in the park and refusing the lawful order of a federal officer. The conviction stemmed from a lengthy international pursuit of the two jet skiers on the afternoon of July 15, 2002. Ranger Karl Spilde was contacted by interpretive rangers when two jet skis passed the park tour boat at the west end of the park. Spilde placed his marked patrol boat within a narrow passage ahead of the jet skis and attempted to stop Glennie and Wagner, who had three young adult female passengers with them. They disregarded Spilde’s orders and continued further into the park. Spilde continued his pursuit for about 30 miles and requested air support from the park aircraft. Due to the high speed of the PWC’s, the jet skiers were able to reach a remote island before Spilde, drop off their passengers, and return. They passed Spilde and twice pulled ashore at cabins within Canadian waters as the park aircraft, piloted by Tom Hablett, followed them. When they saw the plane, they returned to park waters and the pursuit resumed. Although the PWC’s were operated at speeds estimated to be in excess of 60 mph, the operators were nonetheless able to entertain Hablett with hand gestures as they raced along the water. The 80-mile pursuit ended when the operators pulled into a Canadian marina and moored there, preventing Spilde from contacting them. Canadian and U.S. customs officials were notified during the pursuit, but were unable to provide support. A subsequent plain clothes site visit by the chief ranger led to verification of the operators’ identities and jet ski registrations. They reentered U.S. waters late that evening and were greeted by a Border Patrol agent. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date. The incident remains under investigation by Canadian customs officials.
[Submitted by Jim Hummel, Chief Ranger]