Local agencies rev up safety preparations for Memorial Day weekend

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comMay 23, 2013 

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Nathan Polk, left, and dad Danny Polk secure their boat Thursday afternoon near Pigeon Point Landing in Beaufort after taking it for a test drive in preparation for a weekend of fishing. "We had some work done on the motor," said Danny Polk.

SARAH WELLIVER — Staff photo Buy Photo

Expecting an influx of beachgoers and vacationers for Memorial Day, several law-enforcement agencies are expanding their presence and preparations in Beaufort County for the holiday weekend.

Master Sgt. Mike Riley of the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office said the enforcement division plans to increase the number of beach patrols. Riley said the Sheriff's Office would also strictly enforce alcohol violations.

The S.C. Highway Patrol will "saturate" highways from 6 p.m. today until midnight Monday, according the S.C. Department of Safety. The holiday weekend signals the start of the state's "100 Deadly Days" campaign, which seeks to reduce the number of crash fatalities during the summer.

Along with local police, the Highway Patrol will enforce speed, alcohol and seat-belt laws during the holiday.

Almost all of the Hilton Head Island Shore Beach Service's 65-person staff will be on hand for the holiday weekend, guarding 13.5 miles of beach, operations manager Mike Wagner said.

The service will also begin enforcing an ordinance that prohibits pets on the beach from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wagner said. That ordinance runs from the beginning of the weekend through Labor Day.

In northern Beaufort County, two sheriff's deputies and a Lady's Island-St. Helena Island Fire District EMS crew will be stationed at Hunting Island State Park throughout the weekend in anticipation of large crowds, park manager Daniel Gambrell said.

The park took precautions in the lead-up to the holiday, installing new warning signs and briefing its staff on safety plans, Gambrell said.

The local office of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources will hold courtesy boat inspections Saturday and Sunday, checking for proper safety equipment and paperwork, DNR Sgt. Michael Paul Thomas said.

The Saturday inspections will be at 10 a.m. at the Lemon Island boat landing on S.C. 170. The Sunday inspections will be at 10 a.m. at the Pinckney Island Landing off of U.S. 278 near Hilton Head.

Thomas said the DNR will have literature and safety supplies available. DNR boat patrols will also work in conjunction with the Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The patrols will be on the lookout for safety violations and those boating under the influence, Thomas said.

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

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