NAVARRE BEACH — Charges have not been filed against a man who took it upon himself to start removing a makeshift memorial on Navarre Beach Causeway that honors the lives lost from the 2015 Black Hawk helicopter crash in Santa Rosa Sound.
According to an offense report from Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office, a deputy was called to the scene Monday by a complainant. The woman said she had gotten the vehicle tag number of a man she said she saw "tearing up and throwing" memorial items into the bird-nesting area.
The woman said she saw a green, newer model minivan near the memorial. She said she saw a man with white hair wearing shorts and a short-sleeve shirt throwing items "over the string" (where the birds are nesting) and push over the memorial markers, the report said. She followed the van and took photos of his tag.
In a second sworn statement, a woman said she and two friends were walking along the causeway when she saw all three memorial markers and flags knocked down. She also saw broken beer bottles in the sand about 30 feet into the bird-nesting area. She and her friends did their best to put the markers and items back up, the report said.
The responding deputy observed broken glass, two broken beer bottles, a glass mug with a laminated photo of a young boy, two black, beaded necklaces and a baseball in the area, according to the report. Deputies ran the tag information and found a green Dodge van registered to a Navarre man.
Deputies spoke to the man at his home. He said he was at the beach that morning and told deputies he felt it was "within my rights to remove the memorial as I believed it has been there too long," the report said.
The Army veteran told deputies the only thing he did was remove one of the markers by pulling it up and placing it on the ground. He denied throwing items into the bird-nesting area.
His daughter said she was with her father that morning. She said she stayed in the van.
Information was shared with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the State Attorney's Office.