FAIRMONT, W.Va. – This weekend will be a busy one in Marion County for 4th of July celebrations, with fireworks displays planned for both Rivesville and Fairmont over the next few days. Many in the area will take the chance to enjoy those celebrations from one of the rivers in the county. However, officers with the Division of Natural Resources Police said that doesn’t mean they do it safely.
“Unfortunately there’s a culture on the waterways of West Virginia that it is OK to recreate and consume alcohol at the same time, so it’s pretty prevalent and our job as Natural Resources Police Officers are to get out on the waterways and ensure that they’re safe and take those that are impaired off the waterways,” said DNRP Officer Randall Kocsis.
That’s why the DNRP is participating in Operation Dry Water, a national effort to both encourage people to practice safer boating and increase enforcement on the water. They said boating under the influence is a real problem with real consequences, including an incident last year where a swimmer was hit by a boat and lost part of their leg.
“So it does happen. In the nine years that I’ve been working these waters in Marion County, that was the most serious incident, and it was directly related to the operator of the vessel being impaired by drugs and alcohol,” said Kocsis.
Kocsis said much of the danger can be avoided with preparation beforehand. That includes being sure your boat follows West Virginia inland water law, and has the appropriate equipment. But more than anything else, making a few wise decisions before hitting the water can go a long way.
“The most important think I think is to have a designated driver who is drug and alcohol free, that individual being in a sober state and a legal driver having completed the boater education course requirement,” said Kocsis.