The Lake Gaston Water Safety Council heard about safety issues on the lake from North Carolina wildlife enforcement and Virginia conservation police officers at its Sept. 25 meeting at the Kennon House in Gasburg, Va.
Sgt. Richard Creech from North Carolina started the presentation by recapping this year’s issues on Lake Gaston.
“It’s been kind of quiet this year as far as boating accidents,” Creech said, noting an incident at Morningstar Marina in which a boater caused an explosion after fueling up. No one was hurt.
Creech said there have been four operating while intoxicated taken off the lake this past year in Warren County, several of which were jet skiers operating after dark. He also said that multiple jet skiers were warned about operating personal watercrafts after dark.
“The biggest thing has been the no wake zones. We could sit there every day and continuously write tickets,” Creech said.
Creech told the Water Safety Council that officers stop multiple pontoon boats for operating with running lights on under or along the sides of the pontoons. He said that bright lights like that can cause other boaters to lose their night vision while operating in the dark.
One of the issues Creech talked about was the time it takes to get an operating while intoxicated suspect off the lake and to a processing facility, sometimes taking hours before the suspect can be properly tested for alcohol levels.
Wildlife has the opportunity to work in conjunction with the highway patrol and the sheriff’s office and utilize a bus through the BAT Mobile unit program, which provides a mobile testing facility with a magistrate standing by to streamline the process, according to Creech.
Creech took questions from the Water Safety Council about members’ concerns on the lake.
Conservation Police Officer Mathew Sandy of Virginia followed Creech in the presentation. Sandy said that the Virginia department has had a busy year, but with their extra officers, they were able to write more citations.
“Our OWIs were up this year. We had five this year,” said Sandy. “We’re seeing a good number of designated drivers, and we need to push that as much as we can.”
Sandy took questions from the council about Virginia-specific issues.
Brian Goldsworthy, Council president, gave each officer a Water Safety Council hat, and then continued into Council announcements.