Ferry operations shut down due to ‘vague’ note

Published 2:01 pm Wednesday, July 6, 2016

SWAN QUARTER — A vaguely worded note found aboard the 7 a.m. Ocracoke-to-Swan Quarter ferry brought ferry operations to a halt on Wednesday morning.

Witnesses said more than 20 officers with Hyde County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and N.C. State Highway Patrol responded to incident at the Swan Quarter Ferry terminal. The note found was summarized as reading, “There are monsters on board. By the time you find this note, you’ll all be dead,” according to one law enforcement official.

The note was found while the vessel “Swan Quarter” was under way, said Tim Hass, a communications officer with the North Carolina DOT’s Ferry Division. Hass said the Swan Quarter crew searched the vessel looking for any suspicious packages, but as a precautionary measure, law enforcement was called in to meet the “Swan Quarter” on arrival.

“In an abundance of caution, we got the Dare County bomb-sniffing dog to come in,” Hass said.

Once at the Swan Quarter terminal, cars and passengers disembarked and the ferry was then pulled into an adjacent terminal to be searched thoroughly, according to Hass.

Passengers lined up to board the 10 a.m. from Swan Quarter to Ocracoke waited more than three hours before boarding the 12:45 p.m. ferry to the island, which had room enough to accommodate all the waiting passengers, Hass said.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division has experienced threats in the past: in March 2008, a bomb threat written on notepaper was found on a Knotts Island ferry; another was called into the Cedar Island-to-Ocracoke ferry Field Maintenance Office in July 2011. No evidence of a bomb or bomb-making materials was found Wednesday or during the previous incidents.