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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

June 29 – July 12, 2022

To increase awareness of Conservation Police Officers’ (CPOs, or previously called game wardens) activities, the “Virginia Conservation Police Notebook” provides an overview of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia. These reports are prepared from the officer’s field notes by Kim McCarthy, Executive Assistant of the Law Enforcement Division of DWR. These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other outdoor enthusiasts an undeserved bad reputation.

Region I

Virginia Conservation Police Rescue Couple Stranded on Barrier Island – On Saturday July 2, 2022, Conservation Police Sgt. Garvis and CPO Machen were conducting an alcohol awareness patrol at the Wise Point boat ramp located in the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge in Northampton County. At approximately

6:15 pm, they observed a small boat that appeared to be unoccupied and adrift in Smith Island Bay. The officers launched their patrol vessel to investigate. As they navigated into the western portion of the bay, the officers observed two people waving T-shirts in an attempt to signal the officers. The officers activated the patrol boat’s emergency lights to acknowledge the couples’ signaling and recovered the boat that had drifted approximately 3 miles north of the stranded boater’s location on the beach. The officers towed the boat back to the stranded couple, who were able to get underway and return to the Wise Point boat ramp safely. The couple stated that this was their first trip to the island and they thought they had pulled their boat high enough on the beach to secure its location. They did not have an anchor aboard and did not realize the 4 ft. tide differential of that location. When they returned from their beach walk their boat had drifted away with the incoming tide.


Virginia Conservation Police Respond to Fatal Boating Incident on the James River – On July 2, 2022, Conservation Police Officers Hart and Cavazos had just finished patrolling the James River when they received a report of a boating incident with injury near their location on the James River in Chesterfield County.  Upon investigation by the officers, it was determined that a power boat had struck a person in the water with the propeller of the boat, causing the victim to suffer severe injuries. The victim was a 17 year old female who was tubing and was being picked up by the boat. The victim was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Alcohol was not a factor in the incident. Other Department of Wildlife Resources Officers assisted in the investigation to include CPOs Chester, Scripture, Bumgarner and Hickman.  The Chesterfield Fire/Rescue EMS and Chesterfield Police Department also assisted the CPOs at the scene.


Intoxicated Boater Arrested on the Chickahominy River – On July 2, 2022, Conservation Police Officers from Districts 14 and 15 conducted a boating safety checkpoint on the Chickahominy River in support of Operation Drywater. At approximately 5:30 pm, CPOs Adams, Janicki and Sgt. Thomas stopped a personal watercraft (jet ski) that passed through the screening area. After conducting a safety inspection, CPO Janicki asked the operator to conduct a series of field sobriety tests since he appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. The operator performed the tests poorly and was ultimately placed under arrest for boating while intoxicated. After being transported to the regional jail, the operator’s final blood alcohol level registered a BAC of .08.

Boat Incident Results in Total Loss of Vessel – On July 11, 2022, at approximately 7:45 pm, Conservation Police Sgt. Bumgarner and Conservation Police Officers Dobyns and Dagliano responded to a report of a boating accident with injury on the Mattaponi River in King William County, which occurred earlier in the day.   Upon their arrival on the scene, the officers located the vessel’s operator.  The operator returned to the scene after being treated for injuries and released from the hospital.   The officers located the vessel, which sustained heavy damage from its impact with an object, aground upriver along the river bank.  Charges against the operator are pending a final case review by the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Region II

Wake Violation Leads to Arrest – On July 3, 2022, Officer Sandy and Sgt. Fariss were conducting a boat patrol on Lake Gaston, in Mecklenburg County, when they observed a person operating a vessel above no wake speed in Hawtree Creek.  Officer Sandy stopped the vessel.  While checking safety equipment, Officer Sandy smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the vessel and observed physical signs of impairment from the operator.  As a result, he administered field sobriety tests.  Subsequently the operator was offered a PBT which resulted in a .116 result. Officer Sandy arrested the individual for Operating a Motorboat under the Influence.  The final BAC was 0.09.  Other appropriate charges were placed.

Region III

CPO Patrol Vehicle and Boat Receive 1st place in Grayson County Parade – On July 4, 2022, Master Conservation Police Officer Jason Harris and Senior Conservation Police Officer Eric Rorabaugh, as part of Operation Dry Water Weekend enforcement and education efforts, entered the CPO Patrol Vehicle and River Road Patrol Boat in the Grayson County Fourth of July Parade.   The officers provided information about Personal Floatation Device (PFD) wear, Boating under the Influence (BUI), and Clean River Month to the large, assembled crowd.  It was a successful outreach event, and the combined float received 1st place in the parade.

Personal Watercraft (PWC) Explodes, Leaving Two Occupants Seriously Injured – On July 4, 2022, District 31 Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) responded to Claytor Lake based on witness reports of the explosion of a PWC.    The explosion occurred after the two occupants returned the overturned vessel to an upright position and attempted to restart it.   The explosion caused the occupants to fly approximately 10-15 feet in the air and separated the top section of the PWC from the hull.  CPO’s assisted in stabilizing/monitoring both victims until EMS arrived, vessel recovery, witness identifications, and completing the boat incident investigation. Fire investigators processed the watercraft in hopes of determining the exact cause of the incident. The CPOs involved in the investigation included Sgt. Billings, Boyette, Chaffin, Rohrer, Rutledge, Shaw, and Wood.

  • July 28, 2022