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Man says his family endangered when "pranksters" untied their boat at Port of the Islands

Posted at 5:58 PM, Dec 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-22 21:35:23-05

A Collier County man who lives on a sportfish yacht said a group of men put his family's lives in danger, when the men allegedly untied their boat from the dock while they were inside sleeping. 

Cory Cooper lives a peaceful life with his wife and teenaged son on their boat at Port of the Islands Marina. But late Sunday night, he said their peace was shattered by four men who sat in their deck chairs and started making noise.

"I said 'hey guys, you can't be here and sitting on my furniture on this private dock,'" Cooper said.

He said the men did leave, making lots of noise and rude comments as they went. But when his wife woke up the next morning, she found their boat had been untied and was about six feet from the dock, held by the water and electrical lines.

"We could have ended up out in the middle of the channel," Cooper said. "Yachts come in here at night. They don't have lights on, they navigate with their GPS. They could have hit us, and we're all asleep."

A woman named Shonna who lives on a nearby boat later said she saw some of the intruders from before running down the dock just after midnight. But when Cooper reported the incident to the Collier County Sheriff's Office, he said that the deputy didn't make a report. 

"I said 'well it's got to be more serious,'" said Cooper, who believes the men should be charged with reckless endangerment. "It's like putting a bomb next to somebody's house, and it didn't go off."

According to the sheriff's office, when deputies responded to Cooper's complaint, he told them the four men were staying at a nearby hotel. But when deputies spoke with the hotel's management, they were told that no guests matching the men's descriptions were stating there.

Cooper said he believes the deputies knew who they were looking for, but didn't follow up.

"I was very angry and upset that my wife and son and myself, and our vessel that we live aboard, could have been seriously damaged," Cooper said. "People could have been killed."

Fox 4 spoke with Fort Myers attorney Mike Chionopolous about the circumstances of the incident. He said that if he were prosecuting such a case, the charges would most likely be criminal mischief, rather than reckless endangerment.