Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a 44-year-old Portland man suspected of breaking into Portland Fire & Rescue’s boathouse in Southeast Portland early Thursday, stealing a rescue boat and speeding the vessel to Kalama, Washington, about 43 miles northwest of where the boat went missing, officials said.
Dustin Jay Knutson was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on allegations of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, second-degree criminal trespass and first-degree criminal mischief, said sheriff’s office spokesperson Deputy John Plock.
Someone called Portland Fire & Rescue around 6 a.m. after one of their two water vessels, a rescue boat, was spotted speeding through a marina in a no-wake zone without its lights on, said fire spokesperson Rick Graves.
Fire officials checked their boathouse on the east side of the Willamette River, near Southeast Madison Street and the Eastbank Esplanade, and discovered the vessel was missing, Graves said.
Portland Fire & Rescue tracked the boat’s movements using its GPS device and located it in Kalama. Members of the U.S. Coast Guard stopped the boat and took Knutson into custody, officials said.
Fire mechanics replaced the boat’s damaged propellers and are driving it back to Portland, Graves said.
Surveillance camera footage at the boathouse showed a person swimming around the boathouse’s locked gate shortly before the rescue boat was spotted. Graves suspects Knutson swam under the bay doors, figured out how to open them and drove the boat away.
The boathouse stores a larger, more powerful firefighting boat and the rescue boat, Graves said.
“My guess is they couldn’t figure out how to start the advanced vessel, so they tried and figured out the mechanism to start the rescue boat and got it going,” Graves said.
Knutson pleaded not guilty June 9, 2022, in Multnomah County Circuit Court to charges of resisting arrest, two counts of recklessly endangering another person and fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer.
Knutson allegedly sped away after a Port of Portland police officer attempted to stop him on a Multnomah County highway March 3, 2022, court records show. His driving allegedly posed “substantial risk of serious physical injury.” He resisted when the officer tried arresting him, according to court records.
Knutson was released from jail June 7, 2022. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Shelley D. Russell issued a warrant for his arrest after he failed to appear for a court hearing the next day. Russell filed another warrant in April 2023 ordering officers to cite Knutson in lieu of arresting him.
A Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy cited Knutson June 23, 2023 in Northwest Portland, court records show.
— Catalina Gaitán, [email protected], @catalinagaitan_
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