After a Friday night prom on May 21, a group of mostly high school students came to Middle Bass Island on Saturday May 22, apparently unsupervised by adults, to stay in three villas at St. Hazards. While most of the students did not call attention to themselves, at least two are accused of going on a rampage late Saturday evening May 22, spray painting
Since no spray paint is available for purchase on Middle Bass, we'll let you form your own opinions about when the event was planned.
The primary suspect was an 18-year-old male student who was arrested. He was charged Monday in Ottawa County Municipal Court with nine counts of vandalism, breaking and entering and criminal mischief. Six of the charges are felonies. A 17-year-old female student is also a suspect, but left the island early Sunday morning before she could be arrested. Even though she was already under suspicion, there were no police on the island to arrest her before she got on a morning ferry, and citizen's arrest is considered legally too risky from a liability perspective. The vandalism apparently occurred between 2:30 and 5:00AM by two suspects on foot, and was discovered around 7AM or shortly thereafter. The police were called at 7:43AM but were unable to get to the island until 1:30PM. The Put-in-Bay police only had one officer on the island because the rest had all left for a day of shooting practice, and couldn't send its only officer. And the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department, which does have a boat, declined a request to come to Middle Bass. But the off-duty park ranger on the island did help.
Middle Bass Island does have full-time police on the island between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but this time of year has no police and only an occasional park ranger. However, under normal circumstances, police from Put-in-Bay can be on the island in less than ten minutes.
After the police arrived in their boat, there were unexpected problems. First of all, no one had a key to the PIB police car based on Middle Bass. Two new keys had been obtained early in the spring, but both of them had disappeared. So islanders had to drive the police around to the vandalism sites. And when it came time for the police boat to leave, it had a dead battery and wouldn't start. It took awhile to get both another boat and jumper cables long enough to work.
Without police, however, the Middle Bass residents quickly get together to take care of the island. A large number of people were involved in cleaning the airplanes, identifying the suspects, and keeping the suspects from leaving the island. Our gratitude goes out to everyone who helped. Perhaps we were successful only because so many locals got involved. Even if a policeman had come over quickly, he might have been more concerned with all the vandalism reports than with an active effort to identify and arrest the suspect. The resident involvement was critical to the arrest. It may actually be much more difficult to get away with any real crime against others when you are on an island. If you haven't left by the time the crime is discovered, you probably won't get away.
Pictures are below. Click on any image to enlarge it.
Letters back to top
1. Received 5/26
I am a Alumni of <name deleted> High school
and I am "APPALLED" at what that (those) kids did.
Have them pay for the security to watch over them during the time they do their time on the island.
Oh yes and no buildings to live in either. Make them live in tents for the 4 months.
Best Regards to the People of Middle Bass Island.
<name deleted> (TJ)
2. Received 5/27 (bold face text applied by the webmaster)
I am the parent of a senior at <name deleted> High School. My son and a group of great friends had a safe and fun prom weekend here in <name deleted>. We did have quite a difficult time convincing them not to spend the weekend on Middle Bass Island. The kids did reserve a house for Saturday and Sunday night but because of parent communication we were able to convince them it was not a good idea and they cancelled the reservation. I spoke with many parents and one of the comments most heard was "why were the rental agencies or homeowners allowing 18 year old students reserve these homes?" Every parent I spoke with said they would never reserve a home for the kids and even if they owned a home they would never let the kids use it.
We were lucky because our children understood we were serious about them not going away for the weekend and I do have sympathy for the parents of the students who did spend the weekend on the island, because the kids were going whether they actually had their parents approval or not. We were all caught in a situation that was very difficult to manage but I kept repeating to my son that no one would rent a house to a group of high school students (I was wrong). This has been a tradition for prom weekend seniors for many years so this should not be a new situation for homeowners on the islands. Also the kids were aware that there were no law officers on the island before Memorial Day weekend.
I just thought I would let you know that many parents tried to keep the kids from spending the weekend on the island, some were successful and some were not, and I am sure there were parents who did not care what their kids did. The thing that surprised us the most is that an 18 year old friend of my son actually did have a house reserved. I could not believe that a rental agency or homeowner would ever let this happen.
Unfortunately the destructive behavior of a few students has tarnished our community and I do believe that the majority of students here in <name deleted> are embarrassed and they disapprove of the choices those few students made.
I hope a lesson was learned for all involved and anyone with younger students will provide a safe and fun alternative for their future prom weekend.
All Contents Copyright © 2000-2005 by Middle Bass on the Web, Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction without written permission is forbidden for any purposes other than personal use.
23 Jan 2011 09:49:03.