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Texas Game Warden’s Efforts Didn’t Go Unnoticed July 4th
AUSTIN – Case numbers coming in following the July 4th holiday weekend show concentrated enforcement efforts on the state’s lakes and waterways had a significant safety impact.
Starting with Operation Dry Water the weekend prior to the holiday, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens focused on efforts to reduce the number of boat operators operating under the influence. From June 28 to June 30, game wardens arrested 15 subjects for operating under the influence of alcohol. During the weekend, more than 8,000 vessels were checked and roughly 28,000 boaters were contacted.
“The Operation Dry Water Weekend is a nationwide crackdown on boaters who choose to operate under the influence and it has proven to be a significant eye-opener to the public on the weekend just prior to the nation’s largest boating weekend,” said Asst. Comm. Cody Jones, TPWD Boating Law Administrator.
Over the 4th of July holiday weekend game wardens saw a significant increase in the number of boaters enjoying area lakes and waterways but also noted a rise in the number of designated drivers on the water. “An increased emphasis has been placed on the importance of having a designated driver for your boat,” said Maj. Jeff Gillenwaters, supervisor for the 50-county Central Texas region of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Law Enforcement Division. “We are seeing that this emphasis has become a very effective tool in combating boating while intoxicated cases.”
Texas boaters enjoying fireworks shows on area lakes saw large crowds and a high presence of game wardens patrolling to keep the area safe. Tragically one person did drown on Lake Possum Kingdom, prompting the cancelation of the scheduled fireworks display so that recovery operations could take place. Game wardens also responded to several stranded boaters during a fireworks show on Lake Waco when high winds carried several houseboats downstream; more than two dozen children and adults were transported to shore with no reported injuries.
In Houston, game wardens working with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office conducted a saturation patrol on Clear Lake that netted four boating while intoxicated cases. Present during the operation was an assistant district attorney, a Houston Police Department drug recognition expert and a certified nurse to draw blood.
“Local area public safety initiatives seem to be paying off to create the safest environment possible for our boating public,” said Game Warden Capt. Fred Ruiz, who is based in Harris County, “The numbers speak for themselves.”
For more information go to http://tpwd.texas.gov or call (512) 389-4624.
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