Baxley named one of DNR State Officers of the Year
by Robert Joseph Baker | October 6, 2017 3:30 pm
The state Department of Natural Resources announced Friday that Private 1st Class Blake Baxley had been named the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators State Officer of the Year.
Baxley joined the state Department of Natural Resources in 2015 and is currently assigned to Unit 3G in Clarendon County.
“His supervisor describes him as an exemplary officer concerning every aspect of boating safety,” said a release from the department. “He takes a great deal of pride in educating the public on safe boating and the boating laws through public presentations, courtesy boat inspections and through distributing SCDNR literature.”
During the past year, Baxley gave more than 15 public presentations on boating safety. He also wrote 95 summonses, 334 warnings and had 56 assists.
“He is exceptional at locating impaired boat operators, conducting field sobriety tests and making arrests when necessary,” reads the release. “This past year, Baxley made six cases for boating under the influence and assisted with another. In addition, he logged more than 103 hours of search and rescue missions. He constantly goes above and beyond the normal call of duty. A perfect example of this occurred one cold afternoon during waterfowl season.”
According to a release, Baxley received a call about two young boys stranded in the middle of a storm with a small craft advisory in effect on Lake Marion. The boys gave their location and voiced that their jonboat was taking on water.
“Baxley immediately responded to the call and was on the water within 20 minutes,” reads the release. “As he made his way to their location, his center console boat also took on large amounts of water from heavy rain and the waves coming across the bow of his boat. He was finally able to locate the boaters, but their boat was completely submerged.”
Both young boys were holding on to a free, trying to stay above the water to survive. Baxley was able to get both safely out of the water and back to land.
“This selfless act truly displays his heroism, courage and character,” DNR officials stated.
In the past year, Baxley has also completed 367 hours of boat patrols in his area and has inspected 1,061 boats.
“He is truly the epitome of a hardworking, dependable, dedicated and motivated officer,” DNR officials noted.
Baxley is engaged to Kristian Pritchard. The couple plans to marry in March 2018.