Inaugural ‘Thunder in the Gorge’ campaign nets 96 citations

May. 15, 2013 @ 07:04 AM

State and local law enforcement officers were diligent during the inaugural ‘Thunder in the Gorge’ DWI campaign in the Lake Lure area of Hickory Nut Gorge Saturday evening.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol (NCSHP), in conjunction with Lake Lure Fire Department and officers from Lake Lure, Forest City, Rutherfordton, Spindale, Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and North Carolina Department of Corrections, set up three DWI checkpoints to zero in on drunk drivers.

“It’s always great when we can get together and have a joint cooperation,” said NCSHP First Sgt. J.C. McClelland. “This is one of our largest operations. We started talking about this early last year, and it’s great to see it come together.”

From 10 p.m. Saturday until 3 a.m. Sunday, 48 officers stopped all vehicles traveling on U.S. Highway 64/74-A near Bills Creek Road, N.C. 9 near Ingles and nearby the Rutherford-Henderson County line.

During the five hours, officers issued citations for eight DWI charges, 11 seatbelt violations, 70 traffic violations and seven misdemeanor drug violations.

Officers also made one DWI vehicle seizure and apprehended three wanted persons during the campaign.

Law enforcement participating in the campaign also had access to BATMobile Unit 3, a 32-foot mobile breath-alcohol testing unit used to increase the efficiency of on-site DWI processing.

The BATMobile is equipped with three workstations for Intoxilyzer 5000 breath test instruments, computers, printers, cellular phones, screening test devices, magistrates’ work area and all other necessary equipment and supplies for processing DWI suspects.

“Our main goal with the BATMobile is to train law enforcement, assist them and prepare them for when they have to go to court,” said Al Barnes, a retired law enforcement officer assigned to Unit 3. 

Sobriety checkpoints are continually set up in all North Carolina counties as part of the state’s highly effective anti-drunk driving campaign.

“‘Thunder in the Gorge’ is the largest checkpoint I’ve been involved with,” said NCSHP Trooper Thad Condrey. “Even though DWI trends are down, we can’t become complacent.”

The ‘Thunder in the Gorge’ campaign is one of several enforcement programs used by state and local law enforcement officers to help keep state highways and county roads safe.

“The checkpoints were very successful and overall this was an effective operation,” McClelland said. “We will plan on being out in that area more often.”


BREAKOUT:‘Thunder in the Gorge’ CitationsDWI Charges: 8Seatbelt Violations: 11Traffic Violations: 70Misdemeanor Drug Violations: 7DWI Vehicle Seizures: 1Wanted Persons Apprehended: 3