Beach chair altercation provokes police call, resignation

Associate Publisher

A day at the beach turned into an unfortunate altercation on Wednesday, June 11 for Longboat Key resident Elena Dragu, 39, when she was flipped out of a beach chair by Robert McFarlane, 73.

McFarlane was General Manager of The Promenade Condominium, and was informed by residents that someone was stealing the condominium’s beach chairs.

According to the Longboat Key Police report, McFarlane approached Dragu who was using the Promenade’s chair and had dragged it toward the Water Club Condominium, where Dragu is a resident.

Longboat Key Officer Smith responded to The Promenade at 2:25 p.m. and spoke with Dragu who stated that McFarlane introduced himself as the manager for The Promenade and started yelling at her and accusing her of stealing the chair. Dragu said to Officer Smith that she tried to explain to McFarlane that she uses the area of the beach so her husband who is confined to a wheelchair can see her from their balcony at the Water Club.

In the police report, Dragu stated McFarlane continued to yell at her and then told her to get off the chair immediately. Dragu requested a few minutes to gather her belongings, and told McFarlane she was not going to jump off the chair immediately. Then, Dragu said in the report, McFarlane dumped her out of the chair and onto the beach while calling her a profane name.

Officer Smith subsequently spoke to McFarlane who stated that he had received a complaint from one of the Promenade residents regarding a Water Club resident using the Promenade’s chairs.

According to the police report, McFarlane stated that Dragu had used the chairs on the two previous days as well. McFarlane says he approached Dragu and she cursed at him. McFarlane told the officer that he told Dragu to get out of the chair and that it was property of The Promenade, and that Dragu continued to yell profanities at him. McFarlane stated he told Dragu to get out of the chair or he would tip her out of it, which he then did, and returned the beach chair to The Promenade.

Dragu told Officer Smith she was not stealing the beach chair, and just grabbed the one closest to the area where her husband could see her. She had no visible signs of injury according to the police report.

Longboat Key Deputy Police Chief Frank Rubino told Longboat Key News that the battery case was handed over to the State Attorney’s Office.

“She (Dragu) committed a theft, he (McFarlane) committed a battery. What he should have done is called the police,” said Rubino.

According to Bobby Muller, Dragu’s husband who spoke with Longboat Key News, McFarlane’s actions were far beyond normal behavior. He said that his wife was alone on the beach when McFarlane approached her, screamed at her, and then tipped her out of her chair, all of which was very frightening and upsetting to her. Dragu originally wanted to press battery charges against McFarlane, but now, Muller informed, McFarlane is no longer working at The Promenade so they have decided not to file the charges.

“He was fired, and the situation was immediately remedied. Everybody that we spoke to was stunned and disbelieving of what happened. Elena was by herself on the beach and this large guy came over with belligerence and aggressiveness. He said ‘Get out of my chair,’ and she was really upset as you can imagine. His behavior was totally uncalled for and inappropriate. I’m glad everybody reacted with the same outrage. They fired him which I think was appropriate,” said Muller.

Cathy Yax, who is now serving as the General Manager for the Promenade and has worked there for 3 ½ years, told Longboat Key News that McFarlane has resigned after the incident and said despite the altercation, he was a wonderful General Manager.

“He was there for 7 ½ years, and although he was going to retire soon, it’s a shame he had to leave like this. He resigned. There’s no excuse for what happened, but she cursed him a blue streak, her first words to him were ‘piss off’. Like I said, we don’t excuse what he ended up doing, but she did push all his buttons,” said Yax.

Yax explained that the chairs in front of The Promenade are green and The Waterclub’s chairs are white, and it is therefore clear which chairs belong to which condominium.

“We have chairs for our residents located in front of our buildings. We had two complaints from our owners, and our manager has to respond to them. She was taking the chair and taking it to the water and leaving it there, and not returning it. If she had explained to him what she was doing, he would have told her to just return the chair when she was done. But she didn’t do that, she started screaming at him.

He (McFarlane) has the best reputation on the key. He has been a wonderful manager. He’s never done anything like this before,” said Yax. “He was highly thought of and he was respected everywhere he went, I have letters from the residents that say the same.”



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Longboat Key News

1 Response for “Beach chair altercation provokes police call, resignation”

  1. Daniela says:

    Had a very rude woman tell me today on Siesta Key to “get out of her chair”. I was sitting there for 45 minutes under the only shaded pavilion provided by the complex we are renting from. There was no towel or belongings on it (although the rules state you can’ t reserve chairs). I have skin issues and was covered in a sun jacket and mud thigh shorts that also have the protection and a big hat. She was the rudest person I have ever met in my 50 years.

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