Wildlife officers increasing patrols at High Rock Lake after drownings

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DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- Officer Mitchell Lawrence makes rounds patrolling High Rock Lake.

He's a wildlife officer with North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and one of four officers who patrol the lake.

"We're looking for different safety concerns or sometimes violations," Lawrence said.

It's something they do every weekend, but with extreme heat expected to draw more people to the lake Saturday, officers are taking things up a notch.

"We do expect an increase of boating activity and swimming activity," he said.

Lawrence says they're expanding their patrols, focusing on the entire lake and all six of its creeks instead of just concentrated areas.

They're stepping it up just days after a 69-year-old man drowned while swimming at the lake Tuesday.

"It saddens us to know that that happened," said the wildlife officer.

Lawrence says it's the second drowning at High Rock Lake this year.

"We're not looking to have any more," he said.

He says they're checking all swimming and boating access areas and private docks.

"We look for careless and reckless boat operation," Lawrence said. "Folks in distress, congested areas."

It's an extra presence swimmers like Dawn Dennis say is needed.

"Sometimes people come and don't do what they're supposed to do and that could cause a lot of problems," Dennis said.

Dennis is at the lake every other week and sees a lot of violations.

"The drinking is the hugest issue for us," she said.

It's an issue officers will be checking for along with people not wearing life jackets or speeding.

"We just want everybody to be safe," Lawrence said.