After repeated warnings, the Port of Hood River has filed criminal trespass charges against a “rogue” kiteboarding instructor.
Jerry Stott, 24, was arrested and lodged in NORCOR on May 25 after showing up at the waterfront in spite of being banned from the property.
Port authorities said they had warned him at least five times to comply with regulations before taking that action.
Because he is considering legal action against the port, Stott declined to comment on the charge against him. According to police reports, at the time of his arrest Stott said he thought the ban only applied to his teaching activities.
Dave Harlan, port director, said Stott’s arrest followed repeated attempts to get him to obtain the proper contract and insurance to operate his Fly High Kiteboards School.
The port’s insurance carrier, said Harlan, had warned that the public entity could be liable for injuries brought by Stott’s students without a formal agreement and liability coverage in place.
“This was nothing personal, we have been trying to work with Jerry for over a year, but kiteboarding is a dangerous activity and that’s why we have to be doubly conscientious,” said Harlan.
He said there are currently four other kiteboarding schools at the waterfront that operate under terms set out in signed contracts and offer insurance protection. He said although the port repeatedly tried to get Stott to enter the same agreement, he did not follow through.
Then, after he was finally prohibited from entering port property on May 22, he returned three days later and began waxing his truck near the Event Site.
“We don’t want to punish all kiteboarders for problems created by errant individuals, we want to go after the problem people,” said Harlan, who is also planning to issue a seasonal ban against several kiteboarders using off-limit areas.
In July of 2000, the Hood River Port Commission agreed to allow the newly emerging sport to be practiced in two areas along the Hood River shoreline.
The first approved site was the riverside jetty known as the Hook on the western edge of the property and the other was a sandbar northeast of the Event Site.
In exchange for that agreement, members of the Gorge Kite Boarding Association pledged to be self-enforcing and stay away from the Event Site, which draws large crowds of pedestrians and other water recreationists, the open grassy area of Parcel 6, and a protected wetland.
Port authorities were concerned that safety problems might arise from mixing kiteboarding with other activities along the river.
That determination was made primarily because of the large space needed to launch and land the devices, which have 85-100 foot drag lines.
The central fear was that beginning kiteboarders might not be able to control their direction and cause injury to other people through a collision or by entangling them in the drag lines.
Harlan said the solution to separate the uses has worked well for the majority of kiteboarders, although there have been some violators whose actions could bring a permanent ban if they cause any harm to others.
“If we don’t enforce our rules and we have a problem, then we run the risk of all kiteboarding use going away,” Harlan said.