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‘We just want everybody to be safe:’ SCDNR, families urge safe boating for Labor Day

Published: Sep. 5, 2021 at 6:32 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Labor Day marks the last big summer holiday for boaters and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources hosted its third complimentary boat safety inspection of the season in Lexington County.

“The most important thing is life jackets – PFDs – they have to have the right life jacket for each person,” said DNR Law Enforcement Education LCPL Treye Byars. “If it’s a child, they need a child-sized life jacket.”

Officers look at the boat of anyone who asks for an inspection while going through a checklist of boating laws and regulations that boaters must abide by.

Other important items on the list include a bell, horn or whistle, boat certification, and visible decals.

Byars says that if a boater does not have adequate life jackets for passengers, DNR does have a few available to borrow to ensure everyone stays as safe as possible.

“We just want everybody to be safe on the lake for the weekend, the same as any other weekend for the summer,” said Byars.

Boating safety is more than a passion for one Midlands family; it’s become a life mission.

“Our son Drew was killed by a drunk boater up on Lake Murray,” said Karen Smith. “And so, we’ve had a real passion about boating safety ever since then.”

In the 23 years since Drew was killed on the lake, the Smiths have been advocates for boating safety, which includes the behavior of driving boats under the influence.

Ahead of the holiday, the Smiths and other families affected urge boaters to make smart decisions.

“Be courteous, be safe, and above all, don’t boat under the influence,” said Randall Smith, Chairman of the South Carolina Crime Victims Council Boating Safety Committee.

SCDNR says boaters should never hesitate to call the department if they are in need of assistance while on the water.

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