Police: Drunken boater crashes into Aurora

At about noon on Labor Day, a man driving a 43-foot commercial fishing vessel played “bumper boats” in Aurora harbor before he slammed into a dock and was arrested.

“For reasons unknown at this time he drove into the main dock, broke it several places, played bumper boats and was arrested by JPD for suspected DUI or BUI — boating under the influence,” Harbor Master Dave Borg told the Empire in a phone interview Tuesday.

The Juneau Police Department arrested Darrin R. Hess, 51, for driving (a watercraft) under the influence and refusing to take a breath test, according to JPD’s Daily Bulletin. Officers took Hess to Lemon Creek Correctional Center, where he is being held without bail.

According to Borg, Hess drove his boat into the harbor looking for moorage. He drove between the M and K floats, near the northern-most section of the harbor before causing “pretty significant damage” to several moored boats and the dock itself.

Borg doesn’t yet know how much it will cost to fix the damaged infrastructure. The dock had only recently been repaired. The city has requested that engineers with a local firm assess the damages.

“I’m not even sure I’ve seen all the damage,” Borg said, describing the importance of the upcoming assessment. “You get those guys poking around down there and they usually find more.”

Though he doesn’t know the exact location of the boater, Borg knows exactly where the boat in question is; it never left. The 43-foot vessel, named the Nor’ Gale, is moored in Aurora Harbor for now.

Borg said that the vessel isn’t one that usually moors in Aurora Harbor, and he described the boater as “transient,” meaning that he follows the fish from town to town. He said he thinks the driver and his vessel are from Haines, but he isn’t sure.

“He’s not a local boat, I can tell you that,” Borg said. “This is not a Juneau vessel.”

The city’s Docks and Harbors division has worked since Monday to make sure the dock is usable, but Borg cautioned harbor patrons to be careful when walking near the site of the collision.

“It’s not the safest situation,” he said. “If people are down there, they need to use caution while they’re walking around.”

• Contact reporter Sam DeGrave at 523-2279 or sam.degrave@juneauempire.com.

Read more news:

NOAA removes groups of humpback whales off endangered species list

The disaster that taught us to fly safely: 45 years after Flight 1866

Juneau police: Knife-wielding man was fending off imaginary animals

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 6

Here’s what to expect this week.

Disney Williams (right) orders coffee from Lorelai Bingham from the Flying Squirrel coffee stand at Juneau International Airport on Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
New coffee stand at airport stirs up heated dispute about having proper authorization to operate

Fans of Flying Squirrel Espresso praise location, hours; officials say FAA violations could be costly.

Nano Brooks and Emily Mesch file for candidacy on Friday at the City and Borough of Juneau Municipal Clerk’s office in City Hall. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
City and Borough of Juneau regular municipal election candidate filing period opens

So far, most vie for Assembly District 2 seat — mayor, Board of Education, and District 1 also open.

Killah Priest performs at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center in December 2019. (Photo courtesy of Lance Mitchell)
Killah Priest sets new record with Alaskan artists on ‘Killah Borealis’

Wu-Tang Clan rapper seeks to lift Alaskan voices and culture in his return performance to Juneau

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, July 10, 2024

For Wednesday, July 10 Attempt to Serve At 10:06 a.m. on Wednesday,… Continue reading

Commercial fishing boats are lined up at the dock at Seward’s harbor on June 22. Federal grants totaling a bit over $5 million have been awarded to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to help Alaskans sell more fish to more diverse groups of consumers. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Federal grants to state agency aim to expand markets for Alaska seafood

More than $5M to help ASMI comes after Gov. Dunleavy vetoed $10M for agency.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds up the omnibus crime bill, House Bill 66, after signing it at a ceremony Thursday at the Department of Public Safety’s aircraft hangar at Lake Hood in Anchorage. At his side are Sandy Snodgrass, whose 22-year-old son died in 2021 from a fentanyl overdose, and Angela Harris, who was stabbed in 2022 by a mentally disturbed man at the public library in Anchorage and injured so badly that she now uses a wheelchair. Snodgrass and Harris advocated for provisions in the bill.Behind them are legislators, law enforcement officers and others. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Goals for new Alaska crime law range from harsher penalties for drug dealers to reducing recidivism

Some celebrate major progress on state’s thorniest crime issues while others criticize the methods.

Juneau Board of Education President Deedie Sorensen (left) and Vice President Emil Mackey, holding his son Emil Mackey IV, listen to discussion about next year’s budget for the school district during a meeting March 14 at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. Recall votes for both board members were certified this week for the Oct. 1 municipal election ballot. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Petitions to recall two Juneau school board leaders get enough signatures for Oct. 1 election ballot

President Deedie Sorensen, Vice President Emil Mackey targeted due to school district’s budget crisis.

Most Read