Man found chained in raft, attached to black box

SURRY, VA (WWBT) - "It's not terrorism related." That's the message from police after a man is found floating in a raft with a chain around his neck -- attached to a black box, near a nuclear power plant.

That man is now in police custody. The incident triggered a massive response from state, local, and federal agencies. This all happened on the James River in Surry County near Fort Eustis.

It started around seven o'clock Friday morning when a commercial crabber spotted the man and called police.

The unidentified man was in a small raft. He was curled up with a chain around his neck that was connected to a black box.

"When he asked to render assistance - the individual said I don't need any help. At that point the crabber pulled off and notified the Coast Guard," said Scott  McBride, Spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Police say the chained man was lucid and helpful at times - then, incoherent and agitated at other times.

"We spent several hours trying to talk to this guy and ascertain what was going on -- why he was there. There wasn't a lot of information we got out of him," said John Bull, Spokesperson for the VA Marine Resources Commission.

The incident caused airspace to be shutdown and boaters to be re-routed.

"After 4 or 5 hours he agreed to let us grapple the boat and the boat was pulled to shore," said Bull.

The question was raised  if the incident was terrorism related. A nuclear power plant is just a few miles away from where the man was found.

"At no time was the Surry County Nuclear Power Plant at risk. This doesn't seem to be a terrorist event just an isolated event here with a local individual," said McBride.

A bomb squad X-rayed that black box. There wasn't a bomb inside but sand. Police later discovered that the man was intoxicated.

The unidentified man is in the custody of state police. No charges have been filed.

The chained man is 32 years old and lives in Williamsburg. Police say he'll undergo a mental evaluation. Charges could be filed at  a later date.

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