Coast Guard responds to man chained to box on raft in James River

SURRY, Va. - Lt. Chris White of Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads lifts the lid of a box filled with sand on a raft pulled from the James River near Surry, Va., May 20, 2011. Coast Guard and partner agencies responded to a report from a crab fisherman who spotted a man chained to the box floating on the river in the morning, and he was later taken into custody by local authorities. U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Lt. Mike Patterson.

Coast Guard Photo by Lt. Mike Patterson.

PORSTMOUTH, Va. – Coast Guard and agency partners responded to a report of a man chained to a box on a raft in the James River near Surry, Va. Friday morning.

The man, described as being in his 30s and living nearby, was later taken into custody by officials and the box was determined to be filled with sand.

There was no danger to the public or the Surry Power Station at any time, but authorities responded to mitigate any potential threat to public safety.

A crab fisherman aboard the vessel Sunrise contacted Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads watchstanders and reported seeing the man on the river at approximately 7 a.m. near the Hog Island State Wildlife Refuge.

Coast Guard crews responded from Coast Guard  Station Portsmouth with a 25-foot Response Boat – Small and from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City with an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. Other government agencies also responded including: FBI, Navy Explosives Ordinance Disposal Team, Virginia State Police, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Surry County Sheriff’s Department and Newport News Police Department.

Coast Guard, Viriginia Marine Resources Commission and the Surry County Sheriff’s Department established a joint agency incident command post for the case at Lawnes Creek Landing.

A temporary 5-mile and 1,500-foot altitude flight restriction was placed around the vicinity of the raft, and a safety marine information broadcast was issued for mariners in the area to maintain a safe distance from the response.

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