Boat rental business owner charged after throwing customer’s phone into water

Owner said boaters damaged her boat; renters say they weren’t given instructions on its handling

Kristen Wooden, 36, of the 41000 block of North Westlake Avenue, unincorporated Antioch

ANTIOCH – The owner of a boat rental business has been charged after police say she threw a customer’s cellphone into the water during a dispute over a rental.

About 6 p.m. July 22, the Lake County Sheriff’s Marine Unit was dispatched to The Boatyard in unincorporated Antioch, located in the 42100 block of North Fourth Avenue, according to a news release.

The caller, Kristen Wooden, 36, of the 41000 block of North Westlake Avenue, unincorporated Antioch, reported that one of her rental boats had struck the Route 12 railroad bridge, and she wished to make a report.

While Sheriff’s Marine Unit deputies were responding to the scene, Wooden called 911 indicating that the renters of the boat were damaging her property; however, she refused to tell emergency telecommunicators what the renters were doing to damage her property. Marine unit deputies arrived about 6:20 p.m. and saw Wooden at the edge of her pier engaged in a verbal argument with the occupants of the boat, which was not yet docked, according to the release.

Wooden said she was concerned the operator was not able to dock the boat, so marine unit deputies offered to give Wooden a ride to her rental boat, so she could dock it herself, which Wooden agreed to do.

After docking the rental boat, Wooden took the cellphone from the hands of one of the boat’s occupants, who was recording the situation. After taking the phone, marine unit deputies saw Wooden toss it into the water, according to the release.

Sheriff’s marine unit deputies spoke to all of the occupants of the rental boat and found that there were no signs or indications of impairment with the operator of the boat. The boat’s occupants said that when they returned to the dock, Wooden refused to let them dock until the sheriff’s office arrived.

The boat’s renters indicated that they were not given proper instructions on handling or maneuvering the boat. Wooden disputed that and said they were given a briefing. Marine unit deputies determined that Wooden had not provided a copy of the rental agreement to the renters, as required by statute. They also determined that the rented boat did not have U.S. Coast Guard-required equipment, specifically an emergency engine cut-off switch link.

Wooden was subsequently arrested in connection with criminal damage to property, due to taking the cellphone and intentionally dropping it into the water. She was also cited for the violation of not providing required equipment on a rental boat.

Wooden was released on a $1,500 recognizance bond. She is next due in court on Aug. 23.

Marine unit deputies also took a boat crash report for the incident earlier in the day, where the boat struck the bridge.

It was later claimed by The Boatyard that there were liquor bottles, beer bottles, garbage and human waste left on the rented boat. These items were not observed by marine unit deputies. It also was claimed the vessel would need to be taken out of service due to its structural integrity being compromised; however, the same boat was rented the following day, according to the release.

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