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Sculpture Makes Splash with Carjack Suspect from Shirley

December 6, 2018

A Shirley man was pulled off this floating art project, conceived by Fitchburg's Revolving Museum founder Jerry Beck, that is moored in the Fort Point Channel by Boston Harbor. PHOTO COURTESY OF JERRY BECK Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

BOSTON -- A Shirley man who jumped off a Boston bridge after allegedly stealing a taxicab found refuge on a floating sculpture created by a Fitchburg museum, according to police and news reports.

William Thoresen, 29, jumped into Fort Point Channel early Wednesday morning and climbed onto a floating dock with the sculpture on it before being arrested, police told WCVB. The sculpture, “Create Coral Reef,” was conceived by Fitchburg artist Jerry Beck, founder of the Revolving Museum.

“You have no control over public art,” Beck said. “It has a mind of its own.”

Beck said he learned of his sculpture’s involvement in the overnight arrest when his friend called him to tell him it was on the news.

“I’m like, you’re joking, right?” Beck said.

He marveled at the role the art project played in the incident and the possibility it saved the life of Thoresen, who leapt into icy water.

The colorful sculpture featuring sea creatures made of salvaged trash and tape has a colorful history to match.

Made by 50 local artists, youth and community members, the sculpture was first floated in the channel adjacent to the Boston Harbor in October. The project was conceived to increase public awareness and promote government action in saving coral reefs worldwide, according to Beck.

However, the effort faltered when strong winds capsized the boat three days later. After a costly recovery process that Beck says showed the support of the Fitchburg and artist community, the boat was recovered.

Further challenges in keeping the sculpture afloat led to replacing the boat with a small donated floating dock and the recreation of much of the “coral” at an art festival in Ipswich.

“It’s indestructible,” Beck said.

He said he is petitioning for the artwork to remain up until spring.

Thoresen climbed onto the sculpture after an alleged carjacking at South Station, according to Boston police.

The cab driver told police a man believed to be Thoresen forced him out and got into the car. Thoresen then allegedly put the car into reverse, striking the victim with the open car door before driving forward and slamming the car into another cab, according to a press release.

Police said Thoresen then drove the stolen taxi to the bridge where he stopped, got out and jumped off the eastern railing.

A witness notified officers conducting a traffic stop nearby that a man jumped off the bridge. The Boston Police Harbor Patrol Unit, other officers, Boston EMS and Boston Fire responded to the search.

A “short time” later, officers pulled the man, who declined medical treatment, from the water, according to the report.

Prior to the alleged carjacking, police say they believe Thoresen broke into a building on South Street, sprayed a fire extinguisher then fled on foot.

Thoresen was to be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on charges including carjacking, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, breaking and entering, two counts of willful and malicious destruction of property, and leaving the scene of a motor-vehicle accident causing personal injury.

He was being held in an area hospital Wednesday.

Follow Elizabeth Dobbins on Twitter @ElizDobbins.

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