ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. - What does a deadly plane crash, beached sailboat en route to Cuba and a boat laden with more than a half ton of marijuana have in common?
They all happened or turned up since mid-May as part of what at least one local resident called the “Jensen Beach Triangle.” The three incidents happened along or off a strip of beach by the Island Beach Resort and Shuckers restaurant on Hutchinson Island in southern St. Lucie County.
“Everybody’s saying it, too,” Ingrid Peters, 46, said Wednesday about the Jensen Beach Triangle reference. “It’s weird, Bermuda Triangle, Jensen Beach Triangle.”
Peters, a Pennsylvania native who moved to Florida when she was 17, lives in a condominium just north of Shuckers.
“It sounds crazy, the whole thing is bizarre,” Peters said. “I’ve lived here 15 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. Nothing happens here.”
The string of unusual incidents began with tragedy May 15 when a single-engine, Soviet-era plane crashed into the ocean not far offshore. The plane appeared to be attempting an aerobatics maneuver. Killed in the incident were Fort Lauderdale pilot and part-time Jensen Beach resident Don Hopkin, 60, and his passenger, James B. Dooms, 39, of North Palm Beach.
On Aug. 20, a sailboat came ashore. The sailboat owner, a man from England, and a woman who is from Germany, told customs officials they were about 2 miles offshore when their anchor line “gave way.” The sailboat stayed beached for several days.
And on Tuesday, officials found more than 1,100 pounds of marijuana — with a street value of more than $1 million — in a boat that came ashore, an incident U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement continue to investigate.
“That is really weird,” said Ronda Robbins, 48, who watched Tuesday from her 15th floor condo as the pot boat made its way ashore and a man jumped off. “It just seems everything happens right here in this area. I don’t know what it is.”
Blayne Rosely, who manages the Island Beach Resort and helps with Shuckers, on Wednesday walked along a wooden boardwalk leading to the beach, pointing out the spots where the boats came ashore and the plane crashed.
“I don’t know how to wrap it up other than it’s quite strange,” he said. “Obviously, the airplane crash was a major tragedy and there was a wedding going on actually on the beach when it happened. There were people in the wedding party that actually ran out there and tried to help.”
The Bermuda Triangle, or Devil’s Triangle, is a “mythical geographic area” off the southeast coast of the United States, according to the U.S. Coast Guard website. The points connect at Miami, Bermuda and San Juan, Puerto Rico, to connect the triangle.
The area is known for a reported “high incidence of unexplained losses of ship, small boats and aircraft.
“The Coast Guard does not recognize the existence of the so-called Bermuda Triangle as a geographic area of specific hazard to ships or planes,” the website states.
In addition to the three incidents, Robbins, a Jacksonville native, mentioned a manatee rescued in front of Shuckers and a dead, 10-foot-long hammerhead shark that washed up near her condo in the last two months.
“It looked like it had two bullet holes in it,” she said of the shark.
A handful of beachgoers dotted the windy oceanfront in the area before lunch Wednesday.
Gerry Crepeau, 56, and his 52-year-old wife, Cathy, sat in beach chairs south of Shuckers as rough surf sent crashing waves lapping at their feet.
“I think it’s a just freaky thing that happened,” Cathy Crepeau said. “It’s very unusual.”
The Crepeaus live in Massachusetts and were visiting Cathy Crepeau’s mother who lives in a condo in the area.
“Usually things happen in threes so maybe it’s done now,” Cathy Crepeau said.
©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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