WELLSVILLE - While investigation continued Wednesday into a boat set afire in the Ohio River early Tuesday morning, village police found a second stolen boat that may have been involved in the incident.
The Hancock County Sheriff's Department launched an investigation Tuesday into how the first boat, which was stolen from the Kenney Marina in Wellsville, was set adrift or taken upriver to the Newell Bridge, where it was set on fire.
The Newell and Chester fire departments responded to that fire at about 2 a.m. after toll booth workers on the Newell Bridge reported hearing an explosion and then seeing the fire.
On Wednesday, Wellsville Chief Joe Scarabino reported that boaters Mike Lynch and Joe Porter were out for a ride when they saw a beached boat on the Yellow Creek shoreline and called Jefferson County authorities, who notified Columbiana County Sheriff's Department, which then notified his department.
Village officers determined the 1991 Sea Swirl pleasure boat was owned by George and Patty Exline and had been docked at the Kenney Marina. The owners were contacted and determined the starter switch had been removed so the boat could be hot-wired and started, Scarabino said.
An attempt was made to set this boat on fire, as well, but it wasn't successful, but it appeared to have suffered some damage in being beached, because it began to take on water after being towed back to the Wellsville marina, Scarabino said.
The state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCII) was called in to process the second boat for fingerprints and evidence, and Scarabino said he will be in touch with the Coast Guard, which was also contacted by West Virginia officials Tuesday.
The burned boat is owned by Robert Hanley and Scarabino confirmed Wednesday it, too, had been docked at the Kenney Marina, and said it is possible the Exlines' boat was used to tow Hanley's boat up river, where it was set on fire.
"How else could they have gotten back to shore (after igniting the first boat)?" he pondered.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the police department at 330-532-1522.