Operation Wild Stallion in Wellington: Fake ID crackdown, education

Leaders of about a dozen restaurants joined Wellington staff and officials, members of the equestrian community and law enforcement on Thursday to discuss solutions to underage drinking and drinking and driving in the village — and Operation Wild Stallion, a law-enforcement effort to crack down on the behavior.

The roundtable was put together in the wake of the Nov. 25 crash that killed 19-year-old Dana McWilliams and 21-year-old Christian Kennedy, two up-and-coming equestrians. Elaine O’Halloran, 24, was critically injured.

RELATED: Operation Wild Stallion targets DUIs, underage drinking in Wellington

The crash, which happened on South Shore Boulevard north of Lake Worth Road, involved “speed and alcohol,” said Village Manager Paul Schofield — marking the first official confirmation that alcohol was a factor in the wreck. A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report released soon after the crash did not mention alcohol.

The discussion centered on Operation Wild Stallion, which has been underway for two weeks. Capt. Rolando Silva of PBSO’s District 8 said deputies are stepping up DUI enforcement, with an increased presence along Wellington’s major thoroughfares.

WELLINGTON READERS: Sign up for The Post’s weekly newsletter for Wellington news

But as undercover deputies have began going into restaurants in the village, they have noticed a rash of young people with fake identification, Silva said, adding that many of them are international.

“It’s a felony to be in possession of one of these,” he said. “They need to know that.”

Player’s Club owner Neil Hirsch brought to the meeting a scanner his nightclub uses to verify the authenticity of IDs presented to his staff.

“There’s a lot of scanners that are less expensive,” he said, noting that many of those only scan the magnetic strip on the back of Florida driver’s licenses. “But this also does the bar code, because a lot of licenses from different states use bar codes instead of mag strips.”

RELATED: Young equestrians killed in Wellington crash: ‘It’s a sad way to start’ the season

But a new challenge has arisen, Hirsch said: Newer IDs have valid magnetic strips or bar codes that trick his scanner.

“They’ll run through the machine and say that they’re real,” he said.

John K. Darrah, manager of the Player’s Club, brought a binder — “And this is just one,” he noted — of scanned images of fake IDs. There were hundreds more in his office, he said after the meeting.

“My biggest fear is what happened,” Darrah said of the November crash.

Much of the discussion also centered on what the community can do to educate teens and parents about the risks of drinking, or even being caught with a fake ID.

RELATED: Will fatal crash spur changes in Wellington’s equestrian community?

“You’re taking a real risk just by being in possession of this stuff,” Silva said.

Palm Beach Central High School Principal Darren Edgecomb said he felt the discussion about educating and disciplining those caught with fake IDs or drinking underage was “hitting the nail on the head.”

The key, he said, was “getting the kids to understand the undiscovered dreams that they’re preventing themselves from having access to.” An arrest or citation could mean no homecoming, no prom — or no graduation.

“I think it has to be education from the point of view of, ‘What are you going to lose?’” he said.

Councilwoman Tanya Siskind lives just a few hundred feet from where the crash took place. She recalled watching the Trauma Hawk land that night to pick up the injured passenger. The thought that ran through her head: What if it had been her daughter?

“She stays out late sometimes watching movies at her friends’ houses, or studying,” Siskind said. “She could have been on that road. It really hit home for me.”

Wellington Vice Mayor John McGovern challenged the restaurant owners to move up and set a hard time for last call “to give people time to regather themselves” and find rides home, while also calling on them to increase free ride services that some already have started.

“I think this was an important first step at a critical moment as we head into the holidays, as we head into school vacation, as we head into the equestrian season,” McGovern said after the roundtable.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Woman arrested after trying to break into Seattle home through dog door
Woman arrested after trying to break into Seattle home through dog door

A Seattle couple told police that a woman broke into their home through a dog door.  The attempted break-in was caught on surveillance cameras. The couple said they were at home when they saw a car pull up next to their driveway. Hours later the car was still there. Then the couple noticed the woman who was in the car was trying to break into...
Trial delayed for suspect in central Florida school shooting
Trial delayed for suspect in central Florida school shooting

The trial for a 19-year-old Florida man accused of firing a shotgun inside a Marion County high school has been postponed. It was supposed to start Monday, but the defense said it needed more time. >> Read more trending news  In April, a school resource officer inside Forest High School in Ocala arrested Sky Bouche minutes...
Texas sheriff department's newest cruiser funded by seized drug money
Texas sheriff department's newest cruiser funded by seized drug money

A Texas sheriff’s department is showing off its newest cruiser and thanking an unlikely source, KTRK reported. >> Read more trending news  In a tweet, the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office said the vehicle was funded by seized drug money. The department shared a photo on Twitter of a decal on the cruiser that reads &ldquo...
Rapper Kodak Black released from Florida jail
Rapper Kodak Black released from Florida jail

Rapper Kodak Black was released from a Florida jail early Saturday morning, WPLG reported. >> Read more trending news  The 21-year-old rapper from Pompano Beach, born Dieuson Octave, but now legally known as Bill K. Kapri, was released from the Broward County Jail after serving seven months in jail for two probation violations. He was...
Nanny cam catches floor contractor going through woman's underwear drawer
Nanny cam catches floor contractor going through woman's underwear drawer

A California woman was horrified to discover a man she hired to install flooring at her home was looking through her underwear drawer, KNSD reported. >> Read more trending news  Ashley Harrell of San Marcos caught the contractor as she viewed footage on her phone from the nanny camera installed in her home, the television station reported...
More Stories