March 27, 2019

ISLAMORADA — A simmering dock dispute at a closed Islamorada motel and marina boiled over into a felony arrest last week, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Smugglers Cove Resort manager and caretaker Richard Van Der Dijs, 53, was arrested after two dock tenants told deputies that Van Der Dijs drove his 2012 GMC sport utility vehicle at them and hit Chad Lyons, 25.

Lyons, who was shooting a video of the encounter, said his ankle was hurt but declined medical treatment.

Van Der Dijs contended Lyons was standing in the motel driveway to block his car, then Lyons “jumped onto his car [hood] and then jumped off,” Deputy Matthew O’Neill reported.

“The witnesses’ statements and video evidence did not corroborate Van Der Dijs’ version of events,” sheriff’s spokesman Adam Linhardt said.

Van Der Dijs was charged with second-degree aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and third-degree aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill. The defendant was released on a $50,000 bond Friday, March 21, and ordered to stay away from both Lyons and Malloy.

Smugglers Cove Resort, a 12-unit motel with dockage at mile marker 85.5 on Windley Key, has been closed for renovations after suffering damage in Hurricane Irma.

Live-aboard residents and operators of commercial vessels docked at Smugglers Cove since early February have been contesting demands to leave the marina. They accuse the manager of cutting off water and electric utilities in an effort to force them out.

Van Der Dijs said in February that the boaters do not have a long-term rental contract and some had stopped paying rent.

In the 11:30 a.m. March 19 incident, Lyons said he argued with the manager after Van Der Dijs allegedly “threatened to sink Lyons’ boat due to an ongoing civil-matter feud,” O’Neill reported.

Van Der Dijs drove off the resort property but immediately returned. Boaters Patrick Malloy and Lyons told deputies the manager then drove at them with his SUV.

“Malloy was in fear for his life because he believes Van Der Dijs would have struck him with the vehicle if he had not moved,” O’Neill reported.

The SUV then headed toward Lyons, who was shooting video.

“The SUV can be seen striking the videographer as he attempts to move out of the way while yelling at the driver,” the deputy wrote.

The two boaters did not appear to be blocking the vehicle’s path, O’Neill noted.

Deputies Caridid Bellon and Martin Digrius also responded to the incident.