CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) –Sheyenne Marshall’s legacy is now signed into law. Monday, Governor Pat McCrory signed Sheyenne’s Law at Cox Mill High School in honor of the 17-year-old who died after being hit by a boat while knee-boarding in Lake Norman on July 4, 2015.
McCrory signed the law at Cox Mill High School in Concord, where Marshall was a student. Her community honored her and thanked lawmakers for passing a law that increases the penalty for impaired boating resulting in death or serious injury.
When Marshall was killed on Lake Norman last summer, impaired boating was considered only a misdemeanor. Under HB958, Sheyenne’s Law increases the penalty for impaired boating to a felony. The class of felony depends on the specifics of the case and the boater in question.
During the governor’s bill signing ceremony, Sheyenne’s sister, Montana, read a message on behalf of the family.
“Last July Fourth, our family suffered a terrible tragedy when we lost my baby sister after she was killed by an impaired boater on Lake Norman,” said Montana Marshall. “Although our hearts are still very broken and our lives are changed forever, we are filled with comfort knowing that because of Sheyenne there are so many lives that are going to be saved.”
McCrory spoke with the Marshall family before signing the bill into law. He said he no longer needed a prepared speech since he learned so much about Sheyenne. He said he wants Sheyenne’s law to serve as a warning for drunk boaters.
“If you get in a boat – and especially behind the wheel – you better take responsibility for that action. And if you don’t, no longer is it going to be a misdemeanor, it’s going to be a felony,” McCrory said.
The man charged in Sheyenne’s case was originally charged with a misdemeanor. Because of that her family, along with those that loved her, have pushed lawmakers for Sheyenne’s law.
McCrory thanked Sheyenne’s boyfriend, Jack Ezzell, for his efforts to promote boat safety.
“Even today I was out on the lake. It’s such a great place to be and I’m glad it’s going to be cleaned up, it’s going to be safe now, or safer,” Ezzell said.
McCrory also spoke about how Sheyenne was the first baseman for the Lady Chargers. He gave one of the many pens to the softball team’s coach. The team won the conference title and made it to the state tournament this year.
“It was hard losing our friend Sheyenne, but I’m just really proud of the family for taking this tragedy [and] making it into something good, something that’ll improve other people’s lives,” Carly Kruse, a Lady Charger said.
Kruse played softball with Sheyenne and they were both in the 2016 class. Sheyenne’s nickname was “Shiney.” The team remembered her with the words “Shine On.” The anniversary of her death is a week away.
“It’s hard knowing that regardless of the tragedy on the lake, people are still going to go out there probably drinking, there’s probably going to be another tragedy. But, I hope people will learn from this law and make good choices from that,” Kruse said.
Sheyenne’s sister, Montana, ended her speech at the ceremony reinforcing the hope her sister’s law will save lives.
“We know that Sheyenne would so proud and excited to have her very own law and so thrilled she was able to make a difference. Shine on!” Marshall said.
Sheyenne’s Law takes effect December 1, and applies to offenses that take place on or after that date.
According to The Charlotte Observer, the man charged with hitting Sheyenne Marshall last summer, Keith Cerven, had a blood alcohol content of 0.14.
Cerven has been charged with boating while intoxicated, involuntary manslaughter, and operating a boat in a reckless manner. His case is still pending in the Iredell County courts. His next court hearing is scheduled for September 12.