Columbia County deputies get new boat for water operations

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July 3, 2006

Columbia County has a new weapon in the fight against DUI, and they chose the Fourth of July holiday weekend to unveil it.

Whether it's the wheel of a car or a boat, deputies will be out making sure you're following the rules.

The newest member of the Columbia County Special Operations Division is the "Sea Pro 206".

"We can get anywhere we need to," says Lt. Butch Askew.

With more than 60,000 acres of water in the area, the water used to be somewhat uncharted territory for deputies.

"In the past we had patrol boats we bought for $1 and it was used from DNR, it wasn't as nice or practical to work out of as this one," says Lt. Askew. "It's a great addition to the sheriff's office."

"Last year we had folks try to swim from the island and back to the port and they got half way and couldn't make it, it was very difficult getting them out of the water with the old boat."

With all the boaters coming out for July 4, it was perfect timing for the newest addition.

And deputies aren't cutting any slack.

"It's very dangerous drinking and driving on a boat, it's just like driving a car."

After only three days of being out on the water, they already helped five stranded boaters.

"A guy from Minnesota got lost on his jet ski and was on the lake for four hours before he could call for help," Lt. Askew says.

Deputies will be out patrolling the waters every weekend for the rest of the summer.