Lawlessness at Wacissa River?

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By: Valerie Lacy
Posted: 5:40 p.m. August 14, 2006

Wildlife officers have handed out dozens of citations; 16 for drug violations, 12 for boating under the influence, and dozens more for safety violations.

The problems don't stop there with bullet holes in the "no guns" sign, bullet holes in the sign for the swimming area. Officers and residents say the headwaters to the Wacissa River in Jefferson County have become a zone for lawlessness.

Just this past weekend an airboat charged full speed off the river onto dry land.

Hildred Green said, "And I jumped up, grabbed my seat, and sure enough he flew right off the water straight down this parking lot, stopped right over there by these trees and our hats blew all out in the water, and all of the debris and stuff just flew up in our faces."

Jeffrey Darby added, "Where the guy came out of the water on the land, parked in the parking lot, that kind of like tripped me out."

Wildlife officers say a breathalyzer proved the driver of that boat was drinking. To cut down on the lawlessness, they're cracking down on crime.

One of their biggest problems is alcohol, but they're also worried about safety. They want a wearable life jacket in every boat, and they're making sure boaters follow every rule out there.

Some families say they come here during the week when the crowds are gone, saying on the weekends this is no place to bring children.

We're also told dogs in that part of the river are attracting alligators. They had to pull a ten-foot gator out when it came a little too close to the crowd.