Danger In The Ditches

Volunteers must use caution

April 17, 2018 - 10:38 am

APRIL 17, 2018 BY RENEE SEXTON (South Carolina Radio Network)

As volunteers, civic groups and adopt-a-highway organizations take advantage of the spring weather for their highway cleanup efforts, South Carolina law enforcement agencies have a warning: be careful what you pick up.

Earlier this month, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office reported two good Samaritans cleaning up litter near the town of Westminster came across syringes and a bag of drugs, which later tested positive for methamphetamine.

“We always wanted to try to be proactive and point out any potential dangers that are there,” the sheriff’s office spokesman Jimmy Watt said. “Not to scare anybody, but just to make our citizens aware of what is going on.”

Watt said the volunteers called the sheriff’s office, who sent a deputy to seize the drugs and syringes so they could be disposed of properly.

“Err on the side of caution always,” Watt said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

He said those who pick up litter should also look out for sharp objects, syringes, or needles which could have been used for drugs. Serious infections could occur from a prick or cut.

“If anything looks suspicious, if they find syringes or a two-liter drink bottle that has what appears to be something suspicious inside, maybe something that looks sandy or dirty at the bottom of the bottle, they discover a backpack, whatever,” Watt said. “The bottle could contain a shake and bake-style meth lab.”

Drug residue also can be dangerous if touched.

“In terms of safely seizing and disposing of those materials should it be a situation, perhaps they are drug-related,” Watt said. “The issue with opioids, obviously, is on everyone’s mind. We know that Fentanyl presents some dangers.”

He said the best thing to do if you see something suspicious is really just step away from it. Don’t touch it. Don’t pick it up. Don’t inhale anything.

Saturday is Palmetto Pride’s annual Great American Cleanup in South Carolina.

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