By HEATHER WALTERS
Warmer weather means that a special group of deputies within the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office are preparing for an increase in water rescues and water patrol in Colleton many waterways.
The Special Response Team, or SRT, is a group of deputies who work within the sheriff’s office and who focus on citizen safety and patrol on Colleton’s many rivers and beachfront: Colleton County is comprised of 1,133 square miles, and this includes the Edisto River, the Ashepoo River, the Combahee River, the ACE Basin, and Edisto Beach.
Edisto Beach is also in Colleton County, as are hundreds of private ponds, marshes and more than a dozen boat landings.
The SRT team helps to monitor all of these waterways.
“These officers respond to missing or overdue boaters, boaters in distress, reported drownings, cars in the water, and residential rescues from flood areas,” said Shalane Lowes, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. “The CCSO also conducts patrols for violations of law and provides safety patrols for events,” said Lowes.
The team itself consists of deputies who also work in other parts of the sheriff’s office, such as road patrol or administration. They are specially-trained to be a part of the SRT, and they also work with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and Colleton Fire-Rescue with search-and-rescue operations in the entire county.
In 2020, the CCSO responded to more than 20 water-related incidents.
In 2021, the sheriff’s office responded to 32 water-related rescues. Most of these occurred at Edisto Beach.
To help manage these waterways, the sheriff’s office currently has one boat assigned primarily to Edisto Beach. The sheriff’s office also has three other boats that are used throughout the county. Each of these boats have side-scan sonar, GPS, and bright lights to “assist in multiple applications,” said Lowes. “Additionally, we maintain the M1078 High Water Vehicle, ATVs, and UTVs used for search and rescue, marijuana eradication, and property recovery,” she said.
Boating Under the Influence
In South Carolina, it is illegal for anyone to operate a motorboat, jet ski or sailboat while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
Boaters with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher are presumed to be under the influence of alcohol.
Under state law, first-time offenders who are found guilty of Boating Under the Influence can be given $200 in fines, 48 hours of jail time or community service and a 6-month suspension of boating privileges.
Those charged with a second offense are facing $1,000 to $5,000 in fines, 48 hours to 10 days in jail or community service and a one-year suspension of boating privileges.
A third BUI offense carries fines of $3,500 to $6,000 with 60 days to three years in jail and a three-year suspension of boating privileges.
Colleton County Boat Landings
Bennetts Point (Mosquito Creek) Landing
Brickyard Ferry (Ashepoo River) Landing
Chessie (Folly Creek) Landing
Cuckholds (Folly Creek) Landing
Fields Point (Combahee River) Landing
Good Hope (Edisto River) Landing
Live Oak (Big Bay Creek) Landing
Long Creek (Edisto River) Landing
Lowndes (Edisto River) Landing
Mars Oldfield (Edisto River) Landing
Old Chehaw (Chehaw River) Landing
Prices Bridge (Horseshoe Creek) Landing
Public (Combahee River) Landing
Sullivans Ferry (Edisto River) Landing
West Bank Boat Landing