In a reverse of which direction boat traffic usually travels in the Florida Straits, a man stole a vessel from the Keys and headed to, and landed in, Cuba, authorities say.
Unlike Cuban migrants who make it to the Keys, Shawn Michael Luskey, 38, will be repatriated to face a felony charge of vessel theft, says the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. The agency didn't know where he is from.
Deputy Becky Herrin says Luskey was caught by Cuban border agents at Havana Harbor at 5 p.m. Oct. 31. He reportedly was in white 13-foot Boston Whaler that was stolen earlier from Murray Marine on Stock Island. Photos of the vessel from Cuban authorities show the Florida registration numbers on the stolen vessel, Herrin said.
She said the boat owner reported the vessel missing the day before Luskey arrived in Cuba (the boat has a 40 horsepower engine); the owner had left the keys in the ignition.
Surveillance video shows a man wearing a full wet suit at the marina at 10:42 p.m. Oct. 30. He's seen pulling on ice-cooler doors but they were locked. He then walks off camera and a little bit later, the Boston Whaler is seen leaving its slip, heading northeast.
Herrin said that on Nov. 2, a U.S. Coast Guard investigator contacted Sheriff's Office Detective Sheila Seago, who had been assigned the case. She was told the Coast Guard had received a message from the Cuban Border Guard about the American's arrival.
When Luskey returns to the Keys, he'll be jailed on a $45,000 bond.
In September, Stephen Leonard, 40, of New York was charged with boat theft for taking a 31-foot Yellowfin vessel from the Hurricane Hole Marina, also on Stock Island, and possibly heading to Cuba. But he didn't make it beyond waters close to South Roosevelt Boulevard in Key West, where marine law enforcement officers — working from planes as well as boats — caught him.
When authorities interviewed Leonard, he reportedly talked about going to Cuba.