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CCSO reports decrease in summer water incidents

The numbers are in, and the amount of emergency and service calls along Colleton’s waterways declined during this past summer season.
The summer is considered to end on Labor Day, and it officially began this year on June 21st. During this time frame this year, the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office responded to about 15 incidents. These incidents include calls for service at county boat landings, in rivers, and at Edisto Beach.
During this same time frame in 2018, the Sheriff’s Office had about 25 calls for service.
According to Sheriff Strickland, the agency’s reduction in calls for service this summer is a reason to celebrate.
“This may be attributed to the low waterways this year,” he said. “This affected the rafting access to (local) waterways.”
As of last week, the Edisto River has hit depths below 2-feet-deep. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA,) the river’s current average depth is 1.71 feet deep. It has been at this average depth since Sept. 28th, and NOAA meteorologists predict the river will stay at this stage for the next few weeks.
The river was mostly low during the hot summer months, a fact that Strickland said may have contributed to the drop in river-related crimes and rescues. “This affected the rafting access to the waterways,” he said.
At Edisto Beach, Strickland said the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office did not see a spike in emergency calls, or in calls for back-up to the Edisto Beach Police Department. The Sheriff’s Office typically serves as a back-up agency to the Edisto Beach Police Department. The Sheriff’s Office also routinely sends a deputy or two to the beach during the summer months to assist in a spike in tourism and traffic control.
According to Strickland, the Sheriff’s Office utilized dive teams on three separate occasions during this summer’s months. In each case, it was used to recover evidence.
“Colleton County Fire-Rescue and SCDNR were also used for those evidence recoveries,” he said. “There were four river patrols conducted in high activity areas where several boats gathered at sand bars with visual determent, and no cases were made.”
Strickland said the county’s boat landings were constantly patrolled by Sheriff’s Office throughout the summer. “This also was a visible determent for criminal activity,” he said.
In addition to responding to emergency calls in and along Colleton’s waterways this past summer, Strickland said the agency also supported the use of Sea Hawk, a multi-agency effort that patrols waterways along South Carolina’s inlets and coastline.
The Sheriff’s Office plays a key role in this effort, since Colleton has multiple inland waterways that reach the sea. Colleton also has several outlets into the ocean, from Bennetts Point to Edisto Beach.
“We did assist Sea Hawk with their usual state-wide water interdiction efforts, which included SCDNR, SLED, the U.S. Coastguard and the Department of Homeland Defense. This organized operation is of our entire coastline and is conducted bi-monthly,” he said.

Heather Walters (1568 Posts)