Deputy Arrested After Drunkenly Crashing Sheriff’s Department Boat

A St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy was stripped of his commission and arrested Saturday night (April 11) after authorities said he drunkenly stole a department patrol boat and crashed it into a piling outside a riverfront bar-restaurant in Madisonville.

Danny Eckhart was not acting in any official capacity when he boarded a patrol boat docked on the Tchefuncte River and drove it downriver to the popular T Rivers Bar and Grill, St. Tammany sheriff’s spokesman Capt. George Bonnett said Sunday. As Eckhart piloted the boat, Bonnett said he caused damage of an unknown amount to the craft when he ran it into a piling near the bar’s docking area just before midnight. No one was injured in the crash, Bonnett said.

Bonnett said Eckhart, whose age and work history with the agency was not immediately disclosed, was booked into the St. Tammany Parish Jail on a charge of unauthorized use of a movable. In addition, agents with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries booked Eckhart with operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Eckhart’s blood alcohol content at the time of his arrest was not disclosed.

Bonnett said Eckhart was released Sunday after posting a $7,500 bond. Eckhart was de-commissioned as a law enforcement reserve officer following the incident, Bonnett said, and restitution for damages to the boat will be pursued in court, the sheriff’s spokesman added.

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