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Duck torcher agrees to pay restitution

An agreement to pay restitution was reached by the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office and the man charged with setting a 25-foot-tall inflatable duck on fire last June in Silverdale.

Deputy prosecuting attorney Claire Bradley said that 18-year-old Robert Poer of Silverdale was charged with possession of a sparkler bomb, an illegal explosive, the night of July 1 next to the Curves fitness center on Ridgetop Boulevard.

“He was sentenced to 60 days in jail,” Bradley said. “And he’s ordered to pay $3,225 to reimburse the Silverdale Rotary for the loss of the duck as part of a plea agreement.”

That amount is the remainder of the cost of a new $6,700 balloon after Curves owner Laura Mitchell donated an insurance settlement for $2,500 and the Silverdale Rotary Club members, the Whaling Days Beer Garden and readers of the Central Kitsap Reporter contributed approximately $1,000.

The story made headlines across the country, mainly in communities that host their own duck races. At the time, the creators of the duck called the incident “absolutely horrible,” according to one official.

Poer originally intended for the sparkler bomb to explode as he and three friends watched, according to police reports. Instead of bursting into shrapnel, the device shot out flames and caught the balloon on fire. By the time firefighters arrived, the duck was already cooked.

Prosecutors declined to go after the other three men after determining they could not prove they played an active role in setting the fire.

The duck’s owners, the Port Angeles-based Olympic Memorial Hospital Foundation, were pleased to hear that Poer was going to pay for his crime.

“We just want to support the Rotary and their endeavor with their duck derby,” said Susan McCabe, the foundation’s assistant coordinator. “All we want to do is replace our duck and that it gets resolved for everyone concerned. We’ve spoken with Great American Merchandising & Events and we’ll order one no matter what so we’ll have one in time for the Olympic Peninsula Great American Duck Race in mid-May.”

The Great Kitsap Duck Race, held on Whaling Days weekend, has benefitted a number of groups since it began 1994, including: the Red Cross, Kitsap Humane Society, Kitsap Community Action Program, Hospice of Kitsap County, Holly Ridge Center, youth sports programs, Project Family, Kitsap Family YMCA and the Literacy Council.

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