Noah Dean and Nate Act passes Senate

By Alethia Davidson, Citizen Tribune

The Act inspired by two Morristown boys killed in an electric shock drowning incident at a Grainger County Marina passed the Senate Monday unanimously and will now go to the House.

The Noah Dean and Nate Act, introduced Jan. 22 by State Rep. Tilman Goins and State Sen. Steve Southerland, passed the Senate’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee March 12.

It is set for the House’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee for March 19.

The bill is intended to lessen the likelihood of electric shock drowning near marinas and boat docks.

Noah’s mother, Jessica Mills Winstead, has worked to raise awareness about the risk of electric shock drowning since the July 4, 2012 death of her son Noah Dean Winstead and his friend Nate Lynam. The bill is a result of her efforts.

On July 4, 2012, 10-year-old Noah and 11-year-old Nate were struck by an electric current while they were swimming near a houseboat at German Creek Marina in Grainger County. Noah died at the lake, and Nate died the following day. The electric current also struck several others attempting to recue the boys.

Winstead explained that too much electricity was leaking from the boat her son and his friend were swimming near, and because the marina did not have GFCI’s (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) in place, the current entered the water without triggering a system designed to shut down electricity.

Winstead sought a bill that would require all existing and future public marinas to be required to install ground fault protective devices at each receptacle on the dock (GFCIs being preferred).

The bill, in its amended form, requires that an inspection of every marina in the state be made through the fire marshal’s office by December 2017. The amended bill requires “Any main overcurrent protective device, installed or replaced on or after April 1, 2015, that feeds a marina shall have ground-fault protection not exceeding one hundred milliamperes (100 mA).”

Permanent safety signage must also be installed with print legible from 80-feet away stating, “Electric Shock Hazard Risk: No Swimming Within 100 Yards of the Boat Dock.”

The bill proposes penalties for those who violate the requirements

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