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Holiday weekend at High Rock keeps wildlife officers busy

By Jessie Burchette
jburchette@salisburypost.comWith hundreds of boaters on High Rock Lake for the holiday weekend, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission officers stayed busy.
It turned out to be a safe weekend despite some drunk boaters.
And wildlife officers are optimistic that more and more party-minded boaters are opting for a designated driver.
Officers brought in a state Booze It and Lose It mobile unit to do breathalyzer tests.
Officers charged five boaters with operating motor boats while impaired.
Another drunk passenger on a boat with a designated driver was charged with driving while impaired when he got off the boat.
Sgt. Anthony Sharum said the man left the designated driver on the boat. He got in a vehicle then backed up the boat trailer and almost ripped the motor off the boat trying to get it out of the lake.
Sharum estimated 500 boats congregated near Abbots Creek on the Davidson County side for a fireworks display Saturday night.
The three Wildlife Resources officers who work the lake were busy. In addition to the alcohol charges, they wrote 15 other violations.
So far this year, officers have cited 17 boaters with operating boats while impaired and charged four more with driving while impaired in access areas around the lake.Sharum, who has worked High Rock Lake for 18 years, has seen the numbers of boaters continually increase.
“High Rock is nestled between Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Charlotte. We get a wide area of the public coming to High Rock,” he said. “It’s extremely busy.”
While boating continues to increase, Sharum is pleased with another growing trend officers are seeing ó designated drivers.
“Designated drivers are what we want to see. People like to enjoy the lake and drink alcohol. It’s alright to drink a beer ó we recommend a designated driver,” he said.
The increase in designated drivers may be a factor in fewer accidents and improved safety.
Sharum noted that in the past, High Rock has ranked in the top five waterways in the state for accidents, only behind Lake Norman and the Intercostal Waterway.
He credited education about safe boating and use of designated drivers as dropping the accident rating.
Sharum noted that across the state there have been several fatal accidents connected to boating this year.

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