Tpr. II J. Ablett
Tpr. II J. Laspada
On Wednesday, November 2, 2011, the New Jersey State Police Marine Services Bureau, Atlantic City Station received a call from the Ocean City Police Department advising that a 75 foot white and red paddle boat was stolen from their municipality. The Ocean City Police Department was informed by the owner that a former employee was operating the vessel near the Ocean City/ Long Port bridge. The suspect was also to believed to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
On that day, at approx 5:30 pm, Tpr. II J. Ablett #6211, and Tpr. II J. Laspada #6303 responded and discovered a large 3 story vessel with a paddle wheel attached to the stern traveling in circles approximately 100 feet off the south Long Port jetty in heavy seas. They also observed a white male fitting the suspect’s description in the third story wheelhouse.
Utilizing the PA system on the Troop vessel, Tpr’s Ablett and Laspada made several unsuccessful attempts to communicate with the suspect. They then observed the suspect leave the wheelhouse, enter the lower level of the vessel, and abandoned the helm as the vessel headed towards the Long Port shoreline and jetty.
Tpr.’s Ablett, and Laspada quickly made a decision to board the vessel and change its course in an effort to protect the suspect, the public, and the vessel. While on board, they conducted a systematic search for the suspect and steered the vessel towards deeper water and a safer location.
With the assistance of other members of the Marine Services Bureau, Tpr’s Ablett and Laspada found the suspect hiding in a small corner behind a large sewer tank. After refusing commands, a brief struggle ensued, and the combative suspect was taken into custody. The suspect was found to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Tpr’s. Ablett and Laspada put their lives in danger to bring an end to this dangerous encounter. Their selfless efforts and immediate actions have brought great pride and distinction to themselves and the Division of State Police.