One week after drowning, emergency officials pass out life safety vests

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- Wildlife officials are making it their mission to make sure safety comes first.

This comes after 22-year-old Taylor Hepler drowned in High Rock Lake after falling off a personal watercraft one week ago.

Investigators say he wasn't wearing a life jacket at the time -- a good reminder safety experts want us all to remember this summer.

"Enjoy your time on the lake, but be safe," said James Monroe with U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

That's the motto here at Buddle Creek near High Rock Lake.

Emergency responders teamed up with Cube Hydro on Saturday to help parents and their kids learn the basics before hitting the water.

Wildlife officials say the most important one is to always wear a life jacket.

"We've already had several drownings in the state of North Carolina this year," said North Carolina Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer Mitchell Lawrence.

That's one reason they're not taking any chances at the lake after Hepler drowned.

Safety officials passed out dozens of life vest to kids of all ages on Saturday.

"They prevent the loss of life a lot more than they cause a loss of life," said Lawrence.

However, the safety tips don't stop there.

Boaters also got helpful information from trained professionals.

"Vessel inspections, talk about water safety and we also do boater safety education," said Monroe.

"The main thing is that they have all the life jackets on board for every person," said Lawrence.

What worries them the most is having to make another death call to a local family.

They're doing their part in trying to prevent another tragedy at this lake.

"By the same token you also want to preserve this beautiful lake and make sure it's safe and clean for everyone to enjoy," said Julia Euliss with the High Rock Lake River Rats Inc.