Airboater reportedly tried to hit deputy

OKEECHOBEE — A Loxahatchee man is being held on $115,000 bond in the Okeechobee County Jail following his arrest for allegedly threatening to hit a local deputy with his airboat.

Douglas Alan Barnes, 58

Douglas Alan Barnes, 58

The deputy’s report stated Douglas Alan Barnes, 58, came within inches of hitting his Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) patrol unit Sunday, Sept. 4, with his homemade airboat.

“Douglas came within inches of running into the front passenger side of my patrol vehicle and looked me straight in the eye as he drove around my vehicle while I was sitting in the driver’s seat,” stated OCSO Deputy Bryan Holden. “I believe he attempted to run into my vehicle, but due to the sandy soil on the road he was unable to totally control his path.”

Barnes, continued the report, then came within inches of running into another vehicle occupied by a man and his wife.

“(They) advised they were afraid he was going to hit them with the airboat,” continued the deputy.

Barnes is now facing felony charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer. He was also arrested on misdemeanor charges of resisting a law enforcement officer without violence and reckless/careless operation of a vessel.

Deputy Holden indicated in his report Sunday’s incident began with a 10 p.m. complaint that an airboat was being operated in a reckless manner at the 4-mile mud hole. That swampy area is located at the intersection of N.W. 208th Avenue and N.W. 304th Street.

When the deputy arrived at the mud hole, he allegedly saw an airboat being operated without navigational lights or a spot light. The vessel, continued Deputy Holden, was being operated in shallow water and on dry ground where several vehicles were parked.

The deputy reportedly turned on his emergency lights and shined his spot light on Barnes in an effort to get the man to come to his patrol unit. Instead, Barnes drove the boat about 100 yards away from the deputy where he turned around and shut off the boat’s engine.

Deputy Holden stated in his report he could “… clearly see (Barnes) facing me.”

According to the deputy, Barnes then started the airboat and drove it toward the deputy “… at a fast rate of speed.” When the boat was within about 40 yards of the patrol vehicle, Barnes “… spun the boat around” so the back of the boat was facing the deputy. At that point, the man accelerated and sprayed water on the OCSO patrol car, added the report.

After disappearing into the swamp, Barnes apparently returned and drove the homemade vessel directly at the deputy’s patrol unit. He then allegedly drove the airboat down the passenger side and around the back of Deputy Harden’s vehicle.

The deputy estimated the airboat was within inches of the OCSO vehicle.

It was at this time Barnes nearly struck the other couple’s vehicle.

For a few minutes, Barnes apparently continued to taunt the deputy as he drove the airboat back and forth past the deputy as the emergency lights on the patrol vehicle were operating.

Barnes then gunned the vessel and tried to drive onto the boat trailer. But he missed and hit the side of the trailer, which caused him to fall to the floor of the boat.

At this point Deputy Holden pulled his taser and ordered the man to get on his knees, lay down on his stomach and put his arms behind his back.

“Douglas shook his head no and sat down on his boat with his arms crossed,” stated Deputy Holden.

The deputy again ordered Barnes to lay down and put his arms behind his back, but the man supposedly refused. Instead, the man defiantly stood up then sat down on his boat, added the report.

Finally, after the deputy threatened to use his taser and other deputies had arrived, Barnes got on his knees and was taken into custody.

Besides the criminal charges, Barnes was also issued a citation for non-operational navigation lights.

Deputy Holden also pointed out he has placed a hold on the man’s airboat and boat trailer.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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